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The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  Area High Schools Boys Basketball Regional Game Results

(Thursday,  March 12)


Charleston Catholic 54     #7 Gilmer County 39

#10 Tucker County 62     Moorefield 53

#8 Notre Dame 84     Pocahontas County 62


►  Area High Schools Girls Basketball State quarter Finals Game Results

(Thursday,  March 12)


(6)Lincoln 59     (3)North Marion 55

(2)Fairmont Senior 66     (7)Bridgeport 60 (F/OT)

►  Sissonville moves into the Class A semifinals with a win over Clay County/font>

Class AA No. 4 Sissonville wrapped up quarterfinal action from the girls basketball state tournament on Thursday night, beating No. 5 Clay County 44-32.

The win avenges two earlier season losses for the Indians to Clay County.

“This week our kids were really focused in practice and we went back to things that we normally do in November,” said Sissonville coach Rich Skeen. “We did box-out drills and that was the difference in the game today — rebounding. Also, our pressure really forced them into some shots that they normally don’t take. I think we earned it – they worked hard for it.”

Sissonville Indians’ junior Karli Pinkerton scored 26 of Sissonville’s 44 points on the night, while McKinzie Barker led Clay County with 17 points.

“They all rely on each other,” Skeen said. “I thought Karli did really well tonight of playing a lot of minutes with two fouls in the first half and not getting that third foul. It made her play smart – she did attack the rim, but at other times she didn’t because of the fouls. She drew some fouls too and that was big.”

“I just went out and played hard and did whatever I could to help the team,” Pinkerton said.

The two teams were tied at the break, 16-16, following a Barker three pointer just as the buzzer went off. A Mikayla Long three with 5:18 to go gave the Indians a 34-25 lead – giving Sissonville enough cushion to close out the win down the stretch.

Sissonville moves on to face No. 1 Wyoming East on Friday night at 7:15 in the Class A semifinals as the Indians try to get back to the state championship game for the second straight year.

“They’re obviously very talented and coming into the game with only one loss on the year,” Skeen said. “You can almost compare them to where we were last year. We were sophomores, but the run that we made, no one expected. We’ve got to do some things defensively, because they attack the basket really well. It’ll be a challenge.”


►  South Charleston moves into the semifinals with a three point win over Greenbrier East/font>

Class AAA No. 3 South Charleston scrapped and clawed its way to a 52-49 win over No. 6 Greenbrier East, overcoming a significant size disadvantage the Spartans present for almost any opponent inside.

“We knew that we had to stay in front of (6-foot-5) Sydney Nunley,” said South Charleston coach Gary Greene. “If she gets us on the backside, she’ll just wear us out shooting layups. (We) did a great job of trying to fight in front of her. We didn’t get there every time, but we were battling and she had to work for a lot of shots.”

Nunley finished the game with 12 points and 18 rebounds for the Spartans. But it was Katie Wilmer’s four early three’s that gave Greenbrier East (19-4) the initial upper hand in the game, jumping out to a 21-9 lead after the first quarter and 27-19 halftime lead.

South Charleston (21-4) chipped away at that lead throughout the second half before eventually taking it themselves — and for good — late in the fourth. The Black Eagles used their defensive pressure to force 20 turnovers and take control of the game’s pace.

“Our pressure defense did a lot for us,” Greene said. “They’re not going to quit playing – someone’s going to have to really outplay us for 32 minutes to give us a loss. (Our team) is going to go down fighting – and most people saw that tonight. There were times where we could have folded and we just refused to lay down.”

A switch to man defense for South Charleston limited Wilmer’s open looks at the basket in the second half, but the sophomore did have a potential game-tying three from the corner fall just off the mark as time expired.

“I thought it had a chance (to go in), I really did,” Wilmer said. “There’s not much you can do about it if it doesn’t go in.”

Taliah Cashwell led South Charleston with 14 points in the win, while Wilmer finished with 15 for Greenbrier East. Aaliyah Dunham, Rhea Smith and Bri Moore combined for 13 of South Charleston’s 15 steals on the night. Dunham added 11 points with seven assists, while Smith scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, to go along with Moore’s eight point effort for the Black Eagles.

“Give them their due – they put a lot of pressure on our back-court,” said Greenbrier East coach Jim Justice. “Our back-court is not strong and we’ve worked on it all year long. We have a lot of inexperience back there.”

South Charleston moves on to face Parkersburg South in the semifinals Friday night at 9:00 PM.

“We’re going to do the best we can to be prepared,” Greene said. “We split with them in the regular season, but when we played them on their court they pretty much man-handled us and destroyed us inside. It’s a matter of us matching up Friday and playing solid defense. It’s going to be a super challenge, but we’ll be here to play 32 minutes.”



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Big 12 Conference Tournament Recaps

(Thursday, March 12)


Final Score: (9) Kansas 64, TCU 59

Kelly Oubre Jr. scored a career-high 25 points as ninth-ranked Kansas grinded out a 64-59 win over TCU in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament.

Landen Lucas had 13 points, seven rebounds and three blocks for the top-seeded Jayhawks (25-7), who advanced to the semifinals without the services of leading scorer Perry Ellis. He missed a second straight game because of a sprained right knee.

Kansas will face 16th-ranked Baylor on Friday.

Trey Zeigler had 20 points to lead the Horned Frogs (18-15) but accounted for eight of their 15 turnovers. Chris Washburn posted 10 points, seven rebounds, four steals and three blocks for TCU, which beat Kansas State in the opening round on Wednesday.

Kyan Anderson, the Horned Frogs’ leading scorer, was limited to 24 minutes because of foul trouble and finished with only three points.

Frank Mason III hit a long jumper at the end of the first half to put Kansas up 33-26. TCU hung around throughout the second half but it never grabbed the lead.

The Horned Frogs tied the game on three occasions, the last when two Zeigler free throws knotted the score at 51 with 6:42 remaining.

Kansas led by five down the stretch, but TCU trimmed it to 59-57 on a Washburn layup with 1:37 left. Oubre followed with a dunk and Lucas added a slam on a lob from Mason after a turnover by Zeigler.

Game Notes

The Jayhawks committed 17 turnovers, one shy of their season high ... Kansas scored 42 points in the paint ... The teams were a combined 1-for-14 from 3- point range. Kansas failed to convert any of its eight attempts from beyond the arc ... The game featured 13 lead changes.


Final Score: (16) Baylor 80, (18) West Virginia 70

Taurean Prince provided a spark off the bench with 18 points, helping No. 16 Baylor beat No. 18 West Virginia 80-70 in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament at Sprint Center.

Royce O’Neale finished with 16 points, five rebounds and five assists for the fourth-seeded Bears (24-8), will play ninth-ranked Kansas in the semifinals on Friday.

Rico Gathers had 15 points and nine rebounds as Baylor continued its domination of West Virginia. The Bears improved to 7-1 in the series.

West Virginia (23-9) played its fourth straight game without leading scorer Juwan Staten (knee), but Jaysean Paige helped pick up the slack with a season- high 18 points.

“Builds a lot of confidence coming in, hitting a few shots and things I work on every day,“ Paige said about his performance. “But the win is the most important and we didn’t come up with a win.“

Devin Williams also scored 18 points for the fifth-seeded Mountaineers, who have yet to win a tournament game since joining the league in 2012.

A Prince layup put Baylor up 55-49 with 13:22 left, but West Virginia responded with an 11-2 run. Williams capped it with a layup for a 60-57 Mountaineers lead with 9:13 remaining.

The Bears moved ahead 64-62 when Prince hit a 3-pointer with about seven minutes to go, and they later capitalized on consecutive West Virginia turnovers to stretch their lead to five. Gathers then made two free throws to give Baylor a 73-66 lead with 2:22 remaining.

“We knew coming in that any game you play was going to be a war and playing on one or two possession games and you’ve got to operate late and I thought our guys did a great job operating down the stretch,“ said Baylor coach Scott Drew.

Baylor used a 13-5 run to close the first half and grab a 38-36 lead. Each team shot 48 percent from the floor, but West Virginia made six 3-pointers compared to only one for Baylor.

Game Notes

Baylor lost in two of the previous three Big 12 championship games ... The Bears extended a school record with a seventh win against a ranked opponent this season ... Gathers has 371 rebounds this season, four shy of tying Charles McKinney’s school record set in 1973-74 ... West Virginia’s Gary Browne missed a third straight game with an ankle sprain.


Final Score: (13) Iowa State 69, Texas 67

Monte Morris made a jumper at the buzzer to lift the 13th-ranked Iowa State Cyclones over the Texas Longhorns, 69-67, in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Conference Tournament on Thursday night.

The Cyclones, who trailed by 16 late in the first half, scored the final 12 points of the game to claim victory. Morris’ buzzer-beating shot was Iowa State’s only lead of the game.

Morris ended with 24 points for the second-seeded Cyclones (23-8), who beat Baylor in last year’s Big 12 title game. Georges Niang added 22 points and six assists.

Iowa State will play 15th-ranked Oklahoma in the semifinals on Friday.

Jonathan Holmes tallied 15 points, nine rebounds and three blocks for the seventh-seeded Longhorns (20-13). Isaiah Taylor contributed 13 points and five assists.

“We played our hearts out,“ said Taylor. “I just want to commend all my teammates, my coaches. Our coaching staff put us in a great position to win a game, and unfortunately we couldn’t pull it out.“

Trailing 67-57 with 3:56 remaining, Morris made two free throws to spark Iowa State’s 12-0 run. Dustin Hogue and Morris made consecutive 3-pointers around a 10-second violation on Texas to make it 67-67.

The teams swapped empty possessions before Texas got the ball back with 38 seconds left. Taylor missed a jumper and Javan Felix misfired on a long 3- pointer.

Hogue came down with the defensive rebound and called timeout with 5.8 seconds left. The ball went to Morris in the corner and he rose up over Demarcus Holland for the game-winning shot.

“At the time you are just hoping and prayin’ it goes in,“ said Morris. “I got a great look at it and got the ball in for us and we was able to walk off the court with a victory.“

Ahead 15-14, Texas created some distance with a 17-2 run. Felix tallied eight points during the burst that Myles Turner capped with a 3-pointer for a 32-16 edge.

The Cyclones closed out the first half on a 9-4 spurt to get within 36-25.

Game Notes

The Cyclones’ four-game win streak against Texas is a school-best ... Each team went 10-of-22 from beyond the arc ... The Longhorns turned the ball over 13 times ... Felix had 10 points.


Final Score: (15) Oklahoma 64, Oklahoma State 49

Buddy Hield scored 22 points and the 15th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners used a strong second half to beat the Oklahoma State Cowboys 64-49 in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Conference Tournament.

TaShawn Thomas added 17 points and 10 rebounds for the third-seeded Sooners (22-9), who will face 13th-ranked Iowa State in Friday’s semifinals. Jordan Woodard and Isaiah Cousins tallied 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Oklahoma outscored Oklahoma State by a 43-23 margin in the second half.

Le’Bryan Nash ended with 27 points and 12 rebounds for the sixth-seeded Cowboys (18-13). Jeff Newberry contributed 10 points.

Trailing 21-19, Oklahoma State went on an 11-0 run that bridged the first and second halves. Nash went 6-of-6 from the foul line during the surge to give the Cowboys a 30-21 lead with 18:37 to play.

But the Sooners responded with an 18-5 run to take the lead for good. Hield tallied 10 points during the burst to make it 39-35 with 13:02 to play.

The score was 43-43 when Thomas threw down a dunk to spark an 18-3 Oklahoma run. Thomas and Cousins each scored six points during the game-clinching surge, which ended on two Hield free throws with 1:42 remaining.

Game Notes

The Cowboys have lost six of their last seven ... Hield went 9-of-9 from the foul line ... The Sooners did not get any points from their bench ... Oklahoma committed just six turnovers ... Oklahoma State went 3-of-21 from beyond the arc.


►  2015 MEN’S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP

2015 MEN’S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
Wednesday, March 11
#8 Kansas State vs. #9 TCU 6:00 PM
ESPNU
✔  TCU 65-67
#7 Texas vs. #10 Texas Tech 8:00 PM
ESPNU
✔  Texas 65-53
Thursday, March 12
#4 Baylor vs. #5 West Virginia 11:30 AM
ESPN2
✔  Baylor 80-70
#1 Kansas vs. TCU 1:30 PM
ESPN2
✔  Kansas 64-59
#2 Iowa State vs. Texas 6:00 PM
ESPNU
✔  Iowa State 69-67
#3 Oklahoma vs. #6 Oklahoma State 8:00 PM
ESPNU
✔  Oklahoma 64-49
Friday, March 13
G3 Winner vs. G4 Winner 6:00 PM
ESPN or ESPN2
G5 Winner vs. G6 Winner 8:00 PM
ESPN or ESPN2
Saturday, March 14
G7 Winner vs. G8 Winner 5:00 PM
ESPN
All times Central. Times / network lineups are subject to change
The second game of each session begins 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game
All games also available via WatchESPN


The Gilmer Free Press

►  NBA Game Results

(Thursday, March 12)

Final Score: Indiana 109, Milwaukee 103 (OT)

Rodney Stuckey contributed 25 points in the Indiana Pacers’ 109-103 overtime win against the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night. Luis Scola and George Hill each tallied 17 points in Indiana’s seventh straight win, with Scola grabbing a season-high 15 rebounds. C.J. Miles added 14 points and Ian Mahinmi grabbed 10 boards in place of Roy Hibbert, who missed the contest with a sore left elbow. Michael Carter- Williams had his best offensive output since being acquired by the Bucks, scoring 28 points with eight rebounds and four assists.


Final Score: Washington 107, Memphis 87

The Washington Wizards took advantage of the depleted Memphis Grizzlies to win back-to-back games for the first time in over a month. Marcin Gortat had 22 points and nine rebounds as the Wizards routed the Grizzlies 107-87 on Thursday night. John Wall added 21 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Wizards, who have won three of their last four games on the heels of a 1-7 stretch. Paul Pierce netted 17 points. Washington hadn’t won consecutive contests since February 07-09.


Final Score: Utah 109, Houston 91

Rudy Gobert had another monster outing to help the Utah Jazz rout the Houston Rockets, 109-91, on Thursday night. Gobert, who grabbed a career-high 24 rebounds in a win at Memphis on March 3, contributed a career-high 19 points and 22 rebounds against the Rockets. Gordon Hayward paced Utah with 29 points and Rodney Hood had a career-high 20 points. The Jazz won their season-high fourth straight game and seventh in their last eight.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  A-Rod homers in Yanks’ spring training loss

Alex Rodriguez hit his first home run since returning from a year-long suspension during the New York Yankees’ 10-6 spring-training loss to the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday.

Rodriguez belted a 3-1 pitch from Brandon Workman over the left-center field wall to lead off the bottom of the fourth inning, part of a 1-for-2 day at the plate for the controversial three-time American League MVP.

The 39-year-old superstar is now hitting .455 (5-for-11) with a pair of walks in five games this spring. Rodriguez was forced to sit out the entire 2014 season after being suspended by Major League Baseball for his role in the Biogenesis PED scandal.

Rodriguez, who is expected to serve primarily as a designated hitter this season, also saw action at third base for the second time since his reinstatement.


►  Rays sign Venters to minor league deal

The Tampa Bay Rays signed veteran left- handed reliever Jonny Venters to a two-year minor league deal on Wednesday.

Venters, who turns 30 later this month, has undergone Tommy John surgery three times in his professional career, including twice since he last pitched in the majors in 2012.

In three seasons with Atlanta, Venters made 230 appearances out of the Braves bullpen and was named an All-Star in 2011, when he led all pitchers with 85 games. He owns a 2.23 ERA and 258 strikeouts in 229 2/3 innings.

Venters is not expected to pitch in 2015.


►  D-Backs C Hernandez out 4-6 weeks

Diamondbacks catcher Oscar Hernandez is expected to miss 4-6 weeks after breaking the hamate bone in his left hand.

Hernandez initially felt soreness in his hand on Monday, but felt a sharp pain after fouling a pitch off on Tuesday.

He will undergo surgery to remove the bone on Thursday.

Because he was selected from the Tampa Bay Rays with the first overall pick of the Rule 5 draft, Hernandez has to remain on the major league roster all season or be offered back to Tampa Bay. However, he can be placed on the disabled list and go on a rehab assignment with the Diamondbacks.

Hernandez, 21, played last season with Class A Bowling Green of the Midwest League, posting a .249 batting average and .301 on-base percentage and throwing out 41% of attempted base-stealers.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Stephens advances at Indian Wells

American Sloane Stephens was a straight set winner as the $5 million BNP Paribas Open commenced Wednesday in the California desert.

Stephens had her troubles with Chanelle Scheepers, but ultimately won 7-5, 7-5 to advance on the hardcourts at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

Britain’s Heather Watson held off German Julia Goerges 6-4, 5-7, 6-3, while Romanian Monica Niculescu whipped Serb Aleksandra Krunic 6-2, 6-1,Croat Donna Vekic dismissed American Louisa Chirico 6-4, 6-3 and German Mona Barthel outlasted France’s Kristina Mladenovic 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.

Also on Day 1, Russian Elena Vesnina drilled Ukrainian Kateryna Kozlova 6-3, 6-3 and Russia’s Daria Gavrilova doused Silvia Soler-Espinosa 6-3, 6-4. Gavrilova should have her hands full with second-seeded Simona Halep in the round of 64.

Additional first-round wins came for Katerina Siniakova, Alison Van Uytvanck, Marina Erakovic, Sachia Vickery, Irina Falconi, Lara Arruabarrena, Monica Puig, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Alison Riske.

The top seeds here are world No. 1 Australian and U.S. Open champion Serena Williams, French Open titlist and Aussie Open runner-up Maria Sharapova, the French Open runner-up Halep, and U.S. Open runner-up Caroline Wozniacki. Sharapova is a two-time winner at Indian Wells, while her fellow former No. 1 Wozniacki captured the title in 2011.

The 2001 Indian Wells champ Williams will end her self-imposed exile from this tournament and play here for the first time in 14 years.

At the 2001 BNP Paribas Open, Serena and her older sister Venus were booed by fans who accused them of match fixing when Venus withdrew from a scheduled semifinal match.

The 19-time major titlist Serena will open her stay against the aforementioned Niculescu.

Flavia Pennetta was last year’s surprise champion, after upsetting Agnieszka Radwanska in the final.

The 2015 Indian Wells champion will earn $900,400.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Take Charge Brandi to have surgery Thursday

Champion filly Take Charge Brandi will undergo surgery Thursday at Rood & Riddle Clinic in Lexington to repair a non-displaced bone chip in her right knee.

Take Charge Brandi, owned by Willis Horton and trained by D. Wayne Lukas, will miss Saturday’s Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

“She’s only going to be out for 60 days. The prognosis is 100% for her to come back, so we’re looking at May 15,“ said Lukas. “She’s been as clean as a hound’s tooth, up to now. She’s been an unbelievably maintenance free racehorse in every way, and I think this little setback will let her mature and grow a bit. I’m looking at it positively.“

Lukas discovered the chip Tuesday morning following training Monday. He said Take Charge Brandi was “a little tender” Tuesday morning and he first thought it might be an issue with a foot.

In her seasonal debut, Take Charge Brandi won the Martha Washington Stakes at Oaklawn. The filly, winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, has won five of nine starts for $1,680,126.


►  American Pharoah to smoke short field in Rebel

American Pharoah, last year’s 2-year- old champion, hits the starting gate for the first time this year in Saturday’s Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park. Unfortunately, not much will be gained except Kentucky Derby points.

Only six other colts are entered in the Grade 2 event and not one of them has ever been on the lead in the early stages of a race at six furlongs or more. That means American Pharoah will be loose on the lead for the third consecutive race.

It has been a long time since the Kentucky Derby was won gate-to-wire. War Emblem was the last to do so 13 years ago. Ironically, he was trained by Bob Baffert, American Pharoah’s conditioner.

Prior to that year, it hadn’t been accomplished since 1988, when the filly Winning Colors hit the winner’s circle.

Can American Pharoah make it just three gate-to-wire Derby champions in the last 27 years? Based on his 2-year-old form, I would not be surprised. However, there are a few question marks that could make it unlikely.

American Pharoah lost his first start by 9 1/4 lengths. It is not often a horse breaks his maiden in a stakes race, but that is exactly what happened when Baffert took the blinkers off for American Pharoah’s second start. The bay colt won the Del Mar Futurity by 4 3/4 lengths, stopping the teletimer in a magnificent 1:21 1/5 for the seven-furlong event.

After going off at 3-1 odds in the Del Mar Futurity, the public was all over American Pharoah in his first dirt try - the Frontrunner Stakes. The 1-2 favorite made the most of it on the front end, carrying his speed to a 3 1/4- length score. He stopped the clock at 1:41 4/5 - the fastest time in the race formerly known as the Norfolk Stakes in over a decade.

Unfortunately, the son of Pioneerof the Nile got hurt and had to miss the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

We shall see if American Pharoah has improved with the time off. If workouts are any indication, the answer will be a resounding yes. The $300,000 weanling purchase has lit up the Santa Anita surface in the mornings with a pair of blistering bullet works over six and seven furlongs, respectively, his last two times on the track.

The sky is the limit for American Pharoah in the Rebel, but how it will transcend into April and May is a different story. Unless the layoff adversely affects him, it is doubtful he will get much out of this race due to the lack of meaningful competition. That means he will have just one key race in over a seven-month span prior to the first Saturday in May.

Furthermore, his pedigree is not suited to win at 1 1/4 miles. Pioneerof the Nile did not sire a top-notch distance horse in 2011 - his first season at stud. Social Inclusion, Cairo Prince and Vinceremos all were part of the Triple Crown trail last year and all three were best up to 1 1/16 miles.

Another key aspect of his pedigree is the Storm Cat angle. As mentioned back in January, Storm Cat first hit the breeding shed in 1988 and none of his descendents have ever won the Kentucky Derby. Many have run second (Menifee, Lion Heart, Bluegrass Cat, Ice Box, Bodemeister and, most recently, Commanding Curve), but none have won the Run for the Roses.

Finally, American Pharoah is one of those rare horses that does not have Turn- To anywhere in his pedigree. All of the last 12 Kentucky Derby winners have been a descendant of Turn-To.

American Pharoah may be the best 3-year-old by the end of the year, but I am not convinced he will win the main prize.

WHICH HORSE HAS BEST CHANCE TO UPSET AMERICAN PHAROAH?

The Truth Or Else is the most accomplished Rebel runner outside of American Pharoah. He has three third-place graded stakes finishes, including one in his last start, the Southwest Stakes.

That race was run in the slop and a week after it was originally scheduled. The Truth Or Else made a menacing outside move from last place to gain the lead with a furlong to run. Far Right got the best of him down the lane to win by three-quarters of a length, but the Southwest was The Truth Or Else’s first start since running sixth in the Remsen in late November.

It is doubtful The Truth Or Else will have a quick pace to close into this time around and his three third-place stakes finishes all have come on off tracks. Rain is in the forecast for Thursday and Friday, but the track should dry out come Saturday afternoon.

The two other possibilities are Madefromlucky and Bold Conquest.

Madefromlucky is Todd Pletcher’s sixth-string horse after the colt won first- time-out for him in an allowance race at Gulfstream Park on February 4. If any horse is going to challenge American Pharoah for the early lead, it will be him.

He has won his last two starts - both around two turns. However, the first win was helped by a couple of fallen horses, which allowed Madefromlucky to sit third behind the two speeds. The latest win was in a five-horse field and the pace was extremely slow.

Madefromlucky has a bad habit of bearing in once he hits the stretch. That and the fact he will be used up chasing American Pharoah are two reasons to find another horse.

Bold Conquest was highly regarded by trainer Steve Asmussen as a 2-year-old. After breaking his maiden at Saratoga, the colt ran second by a neck in the Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs. He followed that effort up with a troubled third in the Breeders’ Futurity as Rosie Napravnik had to steady the colt twice prior to the far turn.

Asmussen had trained Bold Conquest hard for his 3-year-old debut in the Southwest Stakes. The son of Curlin posted two bullet five-furlong works, which is rare for an Asmussen-trained colt.

The week-long postponement and the sloppy track might have affected Bold Conquest as he seemed disinterested the first half of the race. He picked it up inside the final furlong and only lost by 3 1/2 lengths after being about eight lengths behind the leaders around the final turn.

It was a tough trip once again as Bold Conquest was bothered at the start and then went about six-wide into the stretch. Asmussen got two workouts into him since the race and the colt should be a much-improved second off the layoff.

Rebel Stakes - 1) American Pharoah 2) Bold Conquest 3) The Truth Or Else

THE 2015 JEFF FRANK “DIRTY DOZEN”

1) Prospect Park - Has the look of a tremendous 1 1/4-mile prospect

2) Dortmund - Undefeated star keeps on motoring after San Felipe

3) Carpe Diem - Returned in the pink with dominant win in Tampa

4) American Pharoah - Will he get enough out of the Rebel Stakes?

5) Firing Line - On way to Sunland Derby to guarantee Ky Derby points

6) Upstart - Florida’s finest must bounce back from “average” FOY

7) Far From Over - Gets only one more race before Run for the Roses

8) Itsaknockout - Slightly overlooked due to DQ win in the FOY

9) Maftool - Should get best of Mubtaahij once again in UAE Derby

10) El Kabeir - Will get another crack at Far From Over in the Wood

11) Metaboss - Flattered by Bolo’s solid effort in San Felipe Stakes

12-T) War Story - How good can he be with a decent break from gate?

12-T) International Star - A win next time out makes it a Louisiana sweep


►  Up the Backstretch: Rankings offer early look at 2015 season

The initial National Thoroughbred Racing Association polls have been released with Shared Belief and Dortmund atop the rankings.

Shared Belief received all 47 first-place votes in the National Poll after his dominating victory in last Saturday’s Santa Anita Handicap. The 4-year-old gelding, trained and co-owned by Hall of Fame member Jerry Hollendorfer, is perfect in his two starts this season, including a season opening win over 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome, third in the rankings, in the San Antonio Invitational.

“It’s something that you don’t expect,“ the trainer said about Shared Belief’s consistency. “Horses get ups and downs and he just stays the same and he does whatever we ask him to do and he seems very happy and enthusiastic about it.“

Shared Belief has now put himself well in front of all other thoroughbreds this year and appears suited for the long grind of the racing season leading to the Breeders’ Cup Classic on October 31 at Keeneland.

“It’s an amazing thing. It’s like he shows up every single time,“ co-owner Jim Rome said, “he always runs big, is always tough, and just has a lot of grit, a lot of heart. It’s an absolute dream to be involved with a horse like this. He never disappoints. I couldn’t be more proud. I love the horse.“

Breeders’ Cup Turf champ Main Sequence is second after beginning his campaign by claiming last month’s Mac Diarmida at Gulfstream Park. The next target for the two-time Eclipse Award winner is the $6 million Dubai Sheema Classic on March 28 in Dubai.

“As long as he does well in the next three weeks, that’s the plan, but he looks super this morning,“ said trainer Graham Motion after the grass win.

Following California Chrome in the poll are Constitution, Honor Code, Bayern, Lea, leading 3-year-old Dortmund, champion filly Untapable and former two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan.

Dortmund, trained by Bob Baffert, pulled in 34 of 47 top votes based on his victory in the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita to lead the 3-year-old rankings.

“It looks easy because he’s such a good horse and when you have a horse that’s good, he makes it look easy,“ said the colt’s jockey, Martin Garcia. “I’m always confident because I know how good he is. I don’t think there will be any difference for him when we add more distance; he can go any distance. It won’t be a problem for him.“

The 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby on April 4 will be Dortmund’s last start before the Kentucky Derby on May 02.

Carpe Diem began his season with a win in the Tampa Bay Derby and sits second in the poll followed by Upstart, Eclipse Award winner American Pharoah, El Kabeir, International Star, Far From Over, Itsaknockout, Firing Line and Texas Red.

The 3-year-old poll will certainly go through various changes as the season progresses, culminating with the final rankings after the Belmont Stakes on the first Saturday in June.


►  American Pharoah odds-on to win Rebel Stakes

Eclipse Award winner American Pharoah has been made the overwhelming 1-2 morning line favorite for his 2015 debut in Saturday’s $750,000 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

The 1 1/16-mile Rebel is the final local prep for the $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 11. A win is worth 50 points toward a place in this year’s Kentucky Derby.

American Pharoah, last year’s champion 2-year-old male, will start from post 4 in the seven-horse field as he begins his 2015 racing season. Trained by Bob Baffert, American Pharoah will be ridden by Victor Espinoza who retains the mount.

“He knows the horse,“ Baffert said about Espinoza. “He’s a fast horse, but he puts him in a place where he’s comfortable. He’s not a speed freak and he’s not rank. He still needs to break well and get around there. A lot is expected of this horse, but he hasn’t run in a while, although we feel confident he’s going to run well.“

American Pharoah, owned by Zayat Stables, has not started since winning the FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita last September 27. He missed the last three months of 2014 with a suspensory-related injury.

As a 2-year-old, American Pharoah won the Del Mar Futurity on September 3 after finishing fifth in his debut race last August. American Pharoah has earned $361,500

Bob Baffert won last year’s Rebel with Hoppertunity and previously won with Secret Circle (2012), The Factor (2011) and Lookin At Lucky (2010).

The Truth Or Else, second in Oaklawn’s Southwest Stakes, is the 4-1 second pick and has drawn the rail post with Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel again riding. The chestnut colt is owned by Harold Lerner and trained by Ken McPeek.

The Truth Or Else came from well off the pace to get second behind Far Right in the Southwest on February 22.

“If we can get a little bit cleaner inside trip than we had last time, I think we’ll be fine,“ McPeek said.

The 3-year-old was third in last year’s Champagne and Nashua Stakes and sixth in the Remsen Stakes on November 29 at Aqueduct. The Truth Or Else has earned $197,950 in eight starts.

Champion filly Take Charge Brandi will not start the Rebel after an injury was discovered Tuesday morning. The 2014 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner has a non-displaced chip in her right knee and will miss 60 days.

Here is the field for the Rebel in post position order: The Truth Or Else, Calvin Borel, 4-1: Madefromlucky, John Velazquez, 6-1: Tizwonderfulcreek, Belen Quinonez, 30-1; American Pharoah, Victor Espinoza, 1-2; Bold Conquest, Ricardo Santana Jr., 8-1; Paid Admission, Shaun Bridgmohan, 15-1 and Sakima, Ramon Vazquez, 20-1.

The Rebel Stakes has an approximate post time of 7:06 PM ET.


►  Untapable commences season with Azeri Stakes

Eclipse Award winner Untapable has been installed as the 1-2 morning line favorite versus five rivals for Saturday’s $300,000 Azeri Stakes at Oaklawn Park she makes her 2015 debut.

Untapable, trained by Steve Asmussen, will leave from the inside post in the 1 1/16-mile stakes with Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez taking over the mount from the retired Rosie Napravnik.

“She is doing extremely well and this race will be a good starting point to her 4-year-old campaign,“ said AsmusSenator

Owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds, Untapable has earned nearly $3 million with eight wins from 11 lifetime starts. The 4-year-old reeled off consecutive wins last year in the Rachel Alexandra, Fair Grounds Oaks, Kentucky Oaks and Mother Goose Stakes.

The filly took on the boys in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park but finished fifth as the 7-5 favorite to eventual Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern. However, she came back to win the Cotillion at Parx Racing and the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

Untapable was a unanimous selection as 2014 champion 3-year-old filly, receiving all 265 votes.

Here is the field for the Azeri from the rail out: Untapable, John Velazquez, 1-2; Diva’s Diamond, Cliff Berry, 30-1; Sugar Shock, Channing Hill, 10-1; Gold Medal Dancer, Luis Quinonez, 10-1; Mufajaah, Emmanuel Esquivel, 4-1 and Flashy American, Chris Landeros, 5-1.

Th Azeri has an approximate post time of 5:21 PM ET.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NASCAR reinstates Kurt Busch; grants him waiver for Chase

Kurt Busch was cleared Wednesday to get back in his race car and attempt to rebuild a career that was halted two days before the Daytona 500 when NASCAR suspended him for allegedly assaulting his ex-girlfriend.

“It’s been torture sitting out of the car,” Busch said in a conference call. He called the allegations against him “a complete fabrication.”

“I never did anything of the things I was accused of,” he added. “I never wavered in this whole process because of the confidence in the truth.”

Busch missed the season’s first three races during the suspension, the third of his career. In reinstating the 2004 champion, NASCAR ruled he will be eligible for the title-deciding Chase should he qualify. He will return to competition this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway in the No. 41 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing.

He said he will replace his longtime nickname “The Outlaw” with his signature above the door of his car.

Busch remains on indefinite probation.

“We have made it very clear to Kurt Busch our expectations for him moving forward, which includes participation in a treatment program and full compliance with all judicial requirements as a result of his off-track behavior,” NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell said.

Busch was suspended February 20 when a Delaware judge ruled he likely assaulted ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll in his motorhome in September at Dover International Speedway. He lost two rounds of appeals on the eve of the season-opening Daytona 500.

Last week, the Delaware attorney general declined to charge Busch for the incident with Driscoll — a move O’Donnell said “removed a significant impediment” to reinstatement.

Busch said he had been led to believe that criminal charges would be the determining factor in NASCAR taking action, and was surprised when he was suspended before the attorney general made its decision.

“The way that NASCAR reacted, it was different than what we had been told,” Busch said. “They were more focused on the criminal side, as were we. But the commissioner’s ruling was not necessarily what was the important factor here. The important factor is that what I was accused of was a complete fabrication.”

Busch has also complied with NASCAR’s reinstatement requirements, the terms of which have not been disclosed. O’Donnell said a health care expert recommended Busch’s immediate return.

Driscoll questioned NASCAR’s decision to make Busch championship-eligible this season.

“I’m deeply concerned about the message NASCAR is sending by letting him compete for the championship after he was found by a judge to have committed an act of domestic violence,” Driscoll said in a statement. “But I am gratified, at least, that NASCAR’s decision comes with the mandatory condition that he follow through on the treatment he so clearly needs.”

Busch did not reveal what he did to satisfy NASCAR, but indicated he wished he had participated in such a program earlier in his career. He also said he had been encouraged by NASCAR chairman Brian France, who urged him not to change as a driver.

“It’s a road map that they laid out that I am respecting, and it’s created such a good foundation to utilize that I wish I had done it sooner,” Busch said. “Talking with Brian France and going through this road, he told me, ‘Don’t change. Don’t be the person that is different in the car. Be a person that’s different outside the car.’

“So Brian said, ‘Go be yourself in that car, that’s what we really love. We love Kurt Busch behind the wheel.’ That’s my focus, to be humble throughout this whole process and let actions speak louder than words.”

Busch’s return was also cleared by Chevrolet, which had suspended its relationship with Busch. SHR is a Chevrolet team.

The new Chase for the Sprint Cup championship format introduced last season gives drivers an automatic berth into the 16-driver field with a victory during the regular season. But, a driver must be ranked inside the top 30 in points to use that automatic berth.

Busch currently has no points in the No. 41 Chevrolet, a car Haas pays for out of pocket specifically for Busch.

It was Haas who gave Busch the opportunity to resurrect his career as one of the most talented drivers in NASCAR. The 36-year-old has a history of blowups on and off the track that date back to his rookie season. He was suspended in 2012 by NASCAR for threatening a reporter, and parked for the final two races of the 2005 season by Roush-Fenway Racing after he was pulled over by police in Arizona.

Haas, wanting a driver who could take his machine tool manufacturing company to victory lane, offered Busch a ride in a new fourth car at SHR when Busch found himself driving for low-budget teams. Busch was fired at the end of 2011 by Roger Penske for a series of on- and off-track incidents, and he spent two seasons driving for low-budget teams before Haas extended the olive branch.

Busch has 25 career wins, but only one since 2011. It came last year, his first season with SHR, and qualified him for the Chase. Driscoll alleged the assault occurred two days before the third Chase race, when Busch was in danger of being eliminated from the field. He was indeed knocked out of the Chase that weekend.

Busch still must comply with guidelines set by Family Court Commissioner David Jones, who granted the no-contact order for Driscoll that led to his February 20 suspension, two days before the season-opening race at Daytona. Jones wrote in his opinion that he believed Busch could lash out again and has a propensity to lose control in response to disappointing or frustrating situations involving racing.

Jones ordered Busch to be evaluated to see if there is a “treatable mental health condition.” He also said Busch must follow any suggested treatment plans. Busch is appealing Jones’ ruling.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  U.S. women top France to win Algarve Cup

Christen Press and Julie Johnston scored first-half goals on Wednesday as the United States women’s national team knocked off France, 2-0, at the Algarve Stadium to win the 2015 Algarve Cup.

After a disappointing seventh-place finish in last year’s Algarve Cup and a 2-0 loss to France in the friendly earlier this year, Jill Ellis’ side certainly entered Wednesday’s title match with redemption on their minds.

The U.S. opened the scoring after just eight minutes as Lauren Holiday swung an excellent free kick into the box where defender Johnston got her head to it and nodded it past French goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi.

The Americans doubled the advantage in the 44th minute as Press did well to run straight through the French defense and rip one with pace into the bottom right corner.

France had an opportunity to pull one back eight minutes from time as Meghan Klingenberg pulled down Marie-Laure Delie in the box, resulting in a penalty kick.

Amandine Henry stepped to the spot and hit it toward the left side netting, but U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo came up with an excellent diving save.

The U.S. women’s will be back in action against New Zealand in St. Louis on April 04.


►  Real Madrid survives Schalke scare

Schalke claimed a 4-3 win at the Bernabeu on Tuesday, but Real Madrid advanced to the Champions League quarterfinals for the fifth straight year with a 5-4 aggregate score.

After a comprehensive 2-0 victory in the opening leg, Real Madrid started the replay in the driver’s seat, but Schalke put some fear into the Spanish giants by opening the scoring in the 20th minute as Christian Fuchs collected a cross from the right flank and hammered a left-footed strike past Iker Casillas at the near post.

The hosts, though, managed to respond within five minutes as Cristiano Ronaldo nodded home a corner kick in the 25th.

Schalke maintained the pressure and nearly went back in front five minutes before the break when Klaas Jan Huntelaar rattled the crossbar with a right- footed shot from outside the box.

The Dutchman made no mistake moments later when pounced on a rebound conceded by Casillas to steer the go-ahead goal into the back of the net from close range.

It looked as if the German club would carry the lead into the interval, but Ronaldo struck again on the stroke of halftime by heading a superb cross from Fabio Coentrao into the upper corner at the back post.

Karim Benzema thought he had put the tie to rest within eight minutes of the restart as the Frenchman collected a through ball and drifted across the face of goal before firing home Madrid’s third of the match.

Schalke, however, did not go down without a fight as Leroy Sane answered four minutes later with a stunning left-footed strike that deceived Casillas on its way into the back of the net.

Huntelaar kept Schalke’s hopes alive five minutes from time with a brilliant run through the Madrid defense and an equally impressive shot off the underside of the crossbar and into the back of the net.

Casillas then produced a crucial save two minutes later, punching Sane’s dipping shot to safety to keep Madrid in front on aggregate.

Madrid staved off some late pressure to clinch a spot in the next round, but the crowd at the Bernabeu was quite dissatisfied with the performance, jeering the home side following the final whistle.

FC Porto qualified for the quarterfinals with relative ease on Tuesday, cruising past FC Basel in a 4-0 home win in the second leg.

Porto took the lead in impressive fashion in the 14th minute when Vacine Brahimi curled an inch-perfect free kick over the wall and just under the crossbar.

The hosts were two goals to the good in just the second minute of the second half thanks to Hector Herrera, and Casemiro made it three in the 56th minute with a superb free kick into the upper corner.

Vincent Aboubakar finished off the impressive outing with a goal in the 76th minute, sealing Porto’s spot in the next round by making the aggregate score 5-1 in favor of the Portuguese side.

Basel’s miserable outing was capped off in the final minutes with defender Walter Samuel receiving his marching orders by way of a second caution of the match.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Bears sign Rolle to 3-year deal

The Chicago Bears announced late Wednesday that they signed free agent safety Antrel Rolle to a three-year contract.

Rolle is a three-time Pro Bowl selection who has missed just one game in the last nine seasons.

The 32-year-old Miami-Florida product spent the last five seasons with the New York Giants, and was part of the club’s Super Bowl victory following the 2011 season. Rolle totaled 87 tackles and three interceptions over 16 games last year for Big Blue.

Since breaking into the NFL with the Cardinals in 2005, Rolle has racked up almost 800 tackles, 26 interceptions (four returned for TDs) along with four sacks in 148 appearances.


►  Panthers keep Dickson with three-year deal

The Carolina Panthers re-signed tight end Ed Dickson on Thursday.

Financial terms of the three-year deal were not disclosed.

Dickson joined the Panthers last spring as a free agent after spending his first four seasons in Baltimore. He appeared in 16 games last year, starting 10, and finished with 10 catches for 115 yards with a touchdown.

“I’m heavily rooted in my immediate family and being here felt like family,“ said Dickson in a statement Thursday. “I’m excited to continue to work with the guys in the tight end room on and off the field. I feel honored to play with those guys again and have (tight ends coach) Pete Hoener coaching us.“

In addition to tight end, Dickson also spent time last season as a blocking back for injured fullback Mike Tolbert. He also started both postseason games for the NFC South champs, catching three passes for 67 yards.

“Down the stretch, Ed played a very valuable role for us,“ said Panthers coach Ron Rivera. “Ed brings us that second tight end threat. He’s a guy that can both block and catch effectively. He and Greg Olsen give us a very good tandem.“

Dickson, selected by Baltimore in the third round of the 2010 draft, won a Super Bowl title with the Ravens after the 2012 season. He has 121 receptions for 1,293 yards with eight touchdowns in 76 regular-season games, adding 13 catches for 196 yards in 10 playoff games.


►  Bucs sign S Conte, DT Melton to 1-year deals

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed safety Chris Conte and defensive tackle Henry Melton to one-year contracts on Thursday.

Current Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith coached both players when he was at the helm of the Chicago Bears.

Conte, 26, played four seasons for the Bears, who selected him in the third round of the 2011 draft. He had 43 tackles and three interceptions in 12 games last season after getting a career-high 90 tackles and three picks in 16 games in 2013.

The 6-foot-2, 203-pound safety appeared in 57 games for Chicago, making 52 starts.

Melton played for the Bears for four seasons between 2010-13 before spending last year with the Dallas Cowboys. He had 15 tackles and five sacks in 16 games for Dallas, including three starts. The 6-foot-3, 290-pound lineman has 20 1/2 sacks in 64 career games, including 35 starts.

The Gilmer Free Press


References
ABC - American Broadcasting Company
CBS - Columbia Broadcast System
FOX - Fox Entertainment Group
NBC - National Broadcasting Company
JIP - Joined in Progress
DSS - DIRECTV
TSN - Sports Network (Canada)
SNET/SN - Rogers SportsNet (Canada)
RDS - Reseau des sports
MSG - Madison Square Garden Network
TNT - Turner Network Television
TBS - Turner Broadcasting System
SNY - SportsNet New York
CBSSN - CBS - College Sports Network
CSN - Comcast SportsNet
TCN - The Comcast Network
NBCSN - NBC Sports Network
NESN - New England Sports Network
MASN - Mid-Atlantic Sports Network
ROOT - Root Sports (Pittsburgh, Northwest, Rocky Mountain)
CST - Cox Sports Television
FCS - FOX College Sports
FS - FOX Sports Regional
RSN - Regional Sports Networks
CPTV - Connecticut Public Broadcasting
TVG - Horse Racing Channel
FS1 - FOX Sports 1
TWC - Time Warner Cable Sports Channel
* - If Necessary


FRIDAY, MARCH 13, 2015
Major League Baseball - Spring Training
Tampa Bay vs. Philadelphia, 1:05 PM - TCN-Philadelphia
St. Louis vs. Miami, 1:05 PM - FS-Midwest, Florida
Baltimore vs. Toronto, 1:07 PM - SNET, MLB Network
Atlanta vs. NY Mets, 1:10 PM - SNY
Milwaukee vs. Seattle, 4:05 PM - MLB Network
San Diego vs. LA Angels, 4:10 PM - FS-Prime Ticket
NY Yankees vs. Boston, 7:05 PM - NESN, MLB Network
Cincinnati vs. Los Angeles, 10:05 PM - SportsNet LA
National Basketball Association
Sacramento at Philadelphia, 7:00 PM - CSN-California, Philadelphia, DSS
Chicago at Charlotte, 7:00 PM - WPWR, SportSouth, DSS
Orlando at Boston, 7:30 PM - FS-Florida, CSN-New England, DSS
Miami at Toronto, 7:30 PM - SunSports, SNET-One, DSS
Minnesota at Oklahoma City, 8:00 PM - FS-North+, Oklahoma, DSS
LA Clippers at Dallas, 8:30 PM - FS-Prime Ticket, Southwest, NBA TV, DSS
Golden State at Denver, 9:00 PM - CSN-Bay, Altitude, DSS
Atlanta at Phoenix, 10:00 PM - SportSouth, FS-Arizona, DSS
Detroit at Portland, 10:00 PM - FS-Detroit, CSN-Northwest, DSS
National Hockey League
Ottawa at NY Islanders, 7:00 PM - RDS, TSN5, MSG+, DSS
Dallas at Washington, 7:00 PM - FS-Southwest+, CSN-DC, DSS
Edmonton at Columbus, 7:00 PM - SNET-Oilers, FS-Ohio, DSS
Toronto at Calgary, 8:00 PM - TSN4, SNET-West, DSS
Anaheim at Minnesota, 8:00 PM - FS-West, North, DSS
College Basketball
Atlantic 10 Tournament, 12:00 PM - NBCSN
AAC Tournament, 12:00 PM - ESPN 2
Big Ten Tournament, 12:00 PM - ESPN
SEC Tournament, 1:00 PM - SEC Network
Memphis vs. Temple, 2:00 PM - ESPN 2
Big Ten Tournament, 2:25 PM - ESPN
Atlantic 10 Tournament, 2:30 PM - NBCSN
SEC Tournament, 3:30 PM - SEC Network
Conference USA Tournament, 4:00 PM - CBSSN
Sun Belt Tournament, 6:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Southland Tournament, 6:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Atlantic 10 Tournament, 6:30 PM - NBCSN
Big Ten Tournament, 6:30 PM - Big Ten Network
Conference USA Tournament, 6:30 PM - CBSSN
SEC Tournament, 7:00 PM - SEC Network
ACC Tournament, 7:00 PM - ACC Network, ESPN
Big East Tournament, 7:00 PM - FS1
Big 12 Tournament, 7:00 PM - ESPN 2
AAC Tournament, 7:00 PM - ESPN U
MEAC Tournament, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Southland Tournament, 8:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Sun Belt Tournament, 8:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Big Ten Tournament, 8:55 PM - Big Ten Network
AAC Tournament, 9:00 PM - ESPN U
Atlantic 10 Tournament, 9:00 PM - NBCSN
ACC Tournament, 9:00 PM - ACC Network, ESPN
Big 12 Tournament, 9:00 PM - ESPN 2
Mountain West Tournament, 9:00 PM - CBSSN
Pac-12 Tournament, 9:10 PM - Pac-12 Network
SEC Tournament, 9:30 PM - SEC Network
Big East Tournament, 9:30 PM - FS1
Big West Tournament, 9:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Mountain West Tournament, 11:30 PM - CBSSN
Pac-12 Tournament, 11:45 PM - ESPN
Big West Tournament, 11:59 PM - ESPN U
Women’s College Basketball
Conference USA Tournament, 11:00 AM - CBSSN
MEAC Tournament, 12:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Sun Belt Tournament, 12:30 PM - ESPN3.com
MVC Tournament, 1:05 PM - ESPN3.com
Conference USA Tournament, 1:30 PM - CBSSN
MEAC Tournament, 2:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Sun Belt Tournament, 3:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Big West Tournament, 3:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Mountain West Championship, 3:00 PM - Mountain West Network
Southern Illinois vs. Northern Iowa, 3:35 PM - ESPN3.com
Hartford at Albany, 4:30 PM - ESPN U
Horizon League Tournament, 5:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Big West Tournament, 5:30 PM - ESPN3.com
MVC Tournament, 7:05 PM - ESPN3.com
Horizon League Tournament, 7:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Indiana State vs. Missouri State, 9:35 PM - ESPN3.com
College Hockey
Michigan at Michigan State, 7:00 PM - FS-Detroit
Air Force at RIT, 7:00 PM - Time Warner Sports
Penn State at Minnesota, 8:00 PM - American Sports Network
Major League Soccer
Orlando City at Houston, 7:00 PM - UniMas
International Soccer
AS Monaco FC vs. SC Bastia, 3:25 PM - beIN Sports
National Lacrosse League
Toronto at Buffalo, 7:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Golf
EUROPEAN - Tshwane Open, 8:30 AM - Golf Channel
PGA - Valspar Championship, 3:00 PM - Golf Channel
Auto Racing
Xfinity - practice, 4:30 PM - FS1

Sports News   150312

The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  Area High Schools Boys Basketball Regionals Game Results

(Wednesday, March 11)


#3 Fairmont Senior 80, Webster County 50

#2 Bridgeport 83     Keyser 54

#5 Robert C. Byrd 53     Frankfort 46


►  Area High Schools Girls Basketball State Quarterfinals:Game Results

(Wednesday, March 11)


(3)Tucker County 60     (6)Saint Marys 50

(1)Morgantown 64     (8)Buckhannon-Upshur 18


►  Tucker County erases halftime deficit to beat St. Marys in tournament opener

No. 3 Tucker County used an 18-4 third-quarter run to overcome a halftime deficit and defeat No. 6 St. Marys 60-50 on Tuesday morning in the Class A quarterfinals.

“I can’t express how proud I am of these girls and our team,” Tucker County coach Jim Ambrose said. “We had moments where we got baskets when we needed them and we had kids come off of the bench who scored points that we weren’t expecting.”

Senior Aiyana Kachmarek led the way for the Mountain Lions (20-2) with 16 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocks. Sydney Nestor added 11 points, while Elizabeth Nichols scored nine as Tucker County advanced.

“We came out in the second half after being kind of disappointed, we had some girls who weren’t happy,” Ambrose said. “We regrouped a little bit—had to clean up the reaching and fouling. We got some stops and converted on second chance points and that was the key.”

St. Marys (14-10), which got 27 points from Ashley Hall, opened the fourth quarter on a 9-1 run, pulling within 44-42 with under six minutes to go.

The Mountain Lions closed the game out from the free-throw line, finishing 19-of-26.

Tucker County dominated the offensive glass 28-8, outscoring St. Marys in second-chance points 22-5. Kachmarek was a big reason.

“Since it’s my last year here at the state tournament, I just wanted to go out and play as hard as I couldm and I knew I could count on my teammates to help me,” Kachmarek said. “I knew even if I did foul out with my blocks that I would have someone come in for me who would step up.”

The Mountain Lions won the overall rebounding battle 50-32, while also forcing 23 St. Marys turnovers.

“It’s not a challenge if we’re standing and watching (Kachmarek) just catch the rebounds and put them back up,” said St. Marys coach Howard Meeks. “The officials did a great job and didn’t call ticky-tack fouls—you had to (box-out) the proper way.

“They played more physical and (Kachmarek) figured out (how the officials were calling the game). It’s called playing aggressive basketball—(Kachmarek) did it and we didn’t do it well enough.”

Tucker County led 9-1 early before St. Marys’ Hall sparked a 12-2 run to end the first quarter, giving her team a 13-11 lead.

The two teams traded baskets for much of the second quarter before St. Marys’ Jordan Fox hit a half-court shot at the buzzer, putting the Blue Devils up 29-25 heading into the break. Fox led St. Marys in the first half with 12 points, while Hall added nine.

Fox added 12 points for St. Marys and Jordan Nicholas scored 10 points.


►  Charleston Catholic knocks out Class A No. 4 Pocahontas County

In the final game of Wednesday’s girls high school basketball quarterfinals, Class A No. 5 Charleston Catholic took down No. 4 Pocahontas County 57-28.

The Irish jumped out on Pocahontas from the beginning, taking a 29-10 lead into the break. Vida Imani led Charleston Catholic overall in scoring, putting up 15 points.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Game Times, Ticket Info for Regional at West Liberty

The schedule has been set and ticket plans are now in place for this weekend’s NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Atlantic Regional tournament at West Liberty University.

The 8-team event tips off Saturday with afternoon and evening quarterfinal sessions set for the University’s Academic, Sports and Recreation Complex (ASRC).

Action gets under way at noon when No. 3 seed Indiana, Pa. (26-6), the PSAC Tournament runner-up, takes on Mountain East Conference Tournament champion and No. 6 seed Glenville State (22-10). The second game of the afternoon session is a PSAC matchup between No. 2 seed Gannon (23-8), fresh off a win against Indiana in Sunday’s PSAC Tournament final, and No. 7 seed Slippery Rock (20-10). That game is set for a 2:30 PM tipoff.

Four-time defending regional champion and tournament host West Liberty (26-3) opens the evening session with a 6 PM game against No. 8 seed Livingstone, N.C. (19-9), which upset its way to the CIAA Tournament crown for the second consecutive season. Fairmont State (21-10), the third MEC team in the field, is the No. 4 seed and wraps up quarterfinal play with an 8:30 PM tipoff against No. 5 seed Mercyhurst (20-8).

Saturday’s winners return to the ASRC for regional semifinal action Sunday at 5 and 7:30 PM Following an off day on Monday, the regional championship game is set for a 7 PM tipoff on Tuesday.

Tickets for each session are priced at $12 for adults and $6 for students with IDs. All tickets are for general admission with seating on a first-come, first-served basis. Beginning on Wednesday, discount packages priced at $20 for both Saturday sessions and $35 for all four tournament sessions will be available for purchase from Athletic Secretary Robin Brunner daily from 10 AM to 2 PM in the WLU Athletic Department on the fourth floor of the ASRC. Cash transactions only will be accepted.

A limited number of single-session tickets for Saturday’s quarterfinal round will also go on sale Wednesday afternoon at TJ’s Sports Garden and Restaurant on National Road in Wheeling and the Main Street Bank outlets in Wheeling, Moundsville, Wellsburg and Elm Grove. There will be no Will Call window at the event due to NCAA Tournament guidelines.

The Atlantic Region champion advances to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight, which will be held March 25-28 at the Ford Center in Evansville, Ind.

MEN’S BASKETBALL

NCAA Division II Men’s Atlantic Region Tournament

(at West Liberty, WV)

Saturday, March 14

Regional Quarterfinals

Afternoon Session

No. 3 Indiana, Pa. (26-6) vs. No. 6 Glenville State (22-10), Noon

No. 2 Gannon, Pa. (23-8) vs. No. 7 Slippery Rock, PA (20-10), 2:30 PM

Evening Session

No. 1 WEST LIBERTY (26-3) vs. No. 8 Livingstone, NC (19-9), 6 PM

No. 4 Fairmont State (21-10) vs. No. 5 Mercyhurst, PA (20-8), 8:30 PM

Sunday, March 15

Regional Semifinals

Indiana/Glenville winner vs. Gannon/Slippery Rock winner, 5:00 PM

WEST LIBERTY/Livingstone winner vs. Fairmont/Mercyhurst winner, 7:30 PM

Tuesday, March 17

Regional Championship

Sunday’s winners, 7 PM



The Gilmer Free Press

►  2015 MEN’S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP

2015 MEN’S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
Wednesday, March 11
#8 Kansas State vs. #9 TCU 6:00 PM
ESPNU
✔  TCU 65-67
#7 Texas vs. #10 Texas Tech 8:00 PM
ESPNU
✔  Texas 65-53
Thursday, March 12
#4 Baylor vs. #5 West Virginia 11:30 AM
ESPN2
#1 Kansas vs. G1 Winner 1:30 PM
ESPN2
#2 Iowa State vs. G2 Winner 6:00 PM
ESPNU
#3 Oklahoma vs. #6 Oklahoma State 8:00 PM
ESPNU
Friday, March 13
G3 Winner vs. G4 Winner 6:00 PM
ESPN or ESPN2
G5 Winner vs. G6 Winner 8:00 PM
ESPN or ESPN2
Saturday, March 14
G7 Winner vs. G8 Winner 5:00 PM
ESPN
All times Central. Times / network lineups are subject to change
The second game of each session begins 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game
All games also available via WatchESPN


►  West Virginia’s first task in Kansas City: Find a way to beat Baylor

“Game-winner! Game winner!” shouted assistant coach Larry Harrison as West Virginia playfully launched a flurry of halfcourt shots inside the Sprint Center.

The wrap-up to Wednesday’s shoot-around ended when Daxter Miles banked one in, and the wide-smiling freshman held his shooting pose to make sure teammates knew who won.

Miles has made plenty of shots the past two games—taking on a larger scoring role—and he’ll likely need to make a few on Thursday in order for No.18 West Virginia to take down No. 16 Baylor in the Big 12 quarterfinals.

Both teams were 23-8 overall during the regular season and 11-7 in the league, but Baylor swept the home-and-home series by a combined 30-point margin. Thus the Bears are seeded fourth, one spot ahead of the Mountaineers, who figure to be without point guard Juwan Staten for a fourth consecutive game.

The two-time All-Big 12 player, dressed in sweats, joined team managers to make passes to WVU’s healthy players during shooting drills. Since suffering a knee injury 16 days ago in a 71-64 win over Texas, Staten’s timetable for a return has been cloudy, though coach Bob Huggins continues to deny the injury is season-ending.

“He fully intends on playing, but I doubt that he plays (Thursday),” Huggins said. “He’d like to play now, but for sure next week (in the NCAAs).”

The prognosis was better for West Virginia’s other senior guard, Gary Browne, who practiced for the third time on a heavily wrapped left ankle. He’ll likely be available against Baylor, though you can bet he’ll keep an eye out for Rico Gathers. It was the 6-foot-8, 275-pound forward who lunged into Browne’s leg while chasing a loose ball Feb. 27 in Waco.

“The guy’s pretty big and when he goes after something he goes hard,” said Browne, who’s antsy after missing back-to-back games. “I’m tired of sitting on the bench. I want to play. I played my freshman year with a bone spur and cartilage (damage) in my ankle, so I’ve done it before. But this sprain is pretty serious.”

Though he’s still having trouble cutting and making lateral movements, Browne works on conditioning by riding the stationary bike and running on an underwater treadmill. (“I can’t lose my shape,” he said.) He also has shared deep discussions with Staten, who has been sidelined just as West Virginia became primed to realize its postseason goals.

“It’s been rough. He was the (preseason) player of the year, and now everything we’ve worked for and everything we’ve set up for is here and he can’t be part of it on the court.

“He hasn’t been in an NCAA tournament. He’s a great amazing player but that’s one thing he hasn’t been a part of. When you’re that good of a player, you don’t care about stats anymore—you care about winning and accomplishing things.”

Whatever WVU accomplishes this week will depend on a gritty but inexperienced roster, on freshman guards like Miles and Jevon Carter.

“They know they don’t have our leadership and experience, but they keep grinding and playing hard,” Browne said. “They been bonding together to win games.”

No. 18 WEST VIRGINIA (23-8, 11-7) vs. No. 16 BAYLOR (23-8, 11-7)

Tipoff: 12:30 PM Eastern at the Sprint Center in Kansas City (ESPN2)

Scouting the Bears: The All-Big 12 forward Gathers (11.6 points, 11.7 rebounds) combined for 34 points and 27 boards in the regular-season sweep of WVU. He’s joined up front by 6-9 redshirt freshman Johnathan Motley (7.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks). … Point guard Kenny Chery (11.3 points, 4 assists) is the best foul shooter in Baylor history at 87.2 percent and shoots 90 percent in the final 5 minutes. … The conference’s top sixth man, Taurean Prince (14 points 5.5 rebounds), is essentially a starter who plays more than 26 minutes and shoots better than 40 percent from 3. He’s 6-foot-7 and provides great length on the wings with 6-6 senior Royce O’Neale (10 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists).

Coaching the Bears: Scott Drew is a semifinalist for the Naismith national coach of the year award, though he was a runner-up to Huggins for the conference honor. His record is 249-169 overall in 13 seasons—all but one of those at Baylor, where he’s 229-158 with a fifth NCAA bid on the horizon.

Mountaineer musings: With Staten out, expect Jevon Carter (8.5 points, 1.8 steals) and Tarik Phillip (3.9 points, 1.4 rebounds) to handle most of the point guard duties. Since scoring 25 points at Baylor, Carter is 1-of-16 from the floor. … Daxter Miles (7.2 points, 2.3 rebounds) has scored in double figures four straight games, including a 23-point explosion at Kansas. … Sophomore forward Devin Williams (11.1 points, 8.2 rebounds) closed the regular season with a 22-point, 13-rebound effort against Oklahoma State. … Jonathan Holton (7.8 points, 6 rebounds), Nathan Adrian (3.1 points, 2.6 rebounds) and Elijah Macon (4.7 points, 2.6 rebounds) also will be crucial in bodying up against Gathers. … Huggins (763-310 overall in his 33rd season) is 173-99 at West Virginia.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NBA Game Results

(Wednesday, March 11)


Final Score: Sacramento 113, Charlotte 106

Ben McLemore, Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins combined for 73 points in the Sacramento Kings’ 113-106 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday. McLemore and Gay had 27 and 26 points, respectively, for the Kings, who snapped a four-game losing streak. Cousins tallied 20 points and 14 rebounds. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist ended with 23 points and nine boards for the Hornets, who have lost two in a row since a five-game winning streak. Mo Williams contributed 20 points and eight assists, Gerald Henderson added 17 points and 11 assists and Marvin Williams scored 13 points.


Final Score: Chicago 104, Philadelphia 95 (OT)

Aaron Brooks scored a season-high 31 points, Pau Gasol added 27 points and 16 rebounds and the Chicago Bulls defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 104-95 in overtime Wednesday night. Brooks knocked down a game-tying 3-pointer with 33.2 seconds remaining in regulation and the Bulls pulled away in the extra session. Nikola Mirotic posted 16 points, 12 boards and five assists for the Bulls, who snapped a three-game losing streak.


Final Score: Boston 95, Memphis 92

Marcus Smart’s three-point play with 52.2 seconds left put Boston ahead, and the Celtics held on for a critical 95-92 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. Back from a three-game absence caused by an elbow injury, Avery Bradley put up 17 points and buried a key jumper that put Boston up by three with 7.9 seconds left. After Mike Conley badly missed a 3-point try on the other end, the surging Celtics inched closer in the Eastern Conference playoff race with their seventh win in 10 games. Boston now trails Miami by 1 1/2 games for the East’s No. 8 seed. Jae Crowder and Kelly Olynyk contributed 16 and 15 points, respectively, for the Celtics.


Final Score: Miami 104, Brooklyn 98

Dwyane Wade scored 28 points and handed out nine assists as the Miami Heat held on for a 104-98 win over the Brooklyn Nets. Chris Andersen tied a career-high with 18 points and added a season- high 14 rebounds as the Heat won for the second time in three games. Goran Dragic returned from a two-game absence due to a back injury to record 17 points. The Nets committed 21 turnovers which led to 26 Miami points in their fifth straight loss. Deron Williams and Jarrett Jack paced Brooklyn with 18 points apiece, and Thaddeus Young and Brook Lopez each scored 15.


Final Score: Milwaukee 97, Orlando 91

Michael Carter-Williams scored 11 points and made two key free throws with 1:19 left to lift the Milwaukee Bucks over the Orlando Magic, 97-91, on Wednesday. Carter-Williams’ free throws broke a 91-91 tie. After Tobias Harris missed a layup at the other end, Giannis Antetokounmpo threw down a dunk. Khris Middleton added two free throws following a missed 3-pointer by Harris. Carter-Williams also had nine rebounds and six assists for the Bucks, who bounced back from a 114-103 loss to the Pelicans on Monday. Middleton tallied 30 points and Ersan Ilyasova added 12 points and six rebounds.


Final Score: LA Clippers 120, Oklahoma City 108

Chris Paul had 33 points and nine assists as the Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 120-108 on Wednesday night. DeAndre Jordan posted 18 points and 17 rebounds, J.J. Redick provided 25 points, seven assists and five boards and Matt Barnes netted 22 points for the Clippers, who have won five of their last seven games.


Final Score: Denver 115, Atlanta 102

Danilo Gallinari led seven Nuggets in double figures with 23 points and Denver stunned the Atlanta Hawks 115-102 on Wednesday at Pepsi Center. Kenneth Faried had 14 points and four blocks in limited minutes while Will Barton gave 16 points, six rebounds and five assists off the bench for the Nuggets, who have been clicking under interim head coach Melvin Hunt. They have won four of six since he took over for Brian Shaw, with their last two wins coming by double digits.


Final Score: Phoenix 106, Minnesota 97

Markieff Morris had 24 points to lead the Phoenix Suns in a 106-97 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night. Eric Bledsoe supplied 18 points and nine assists to the win, while T.J. Warren added 17 points off the bench. Phoenix snapped its two-game losing streak and won for the third time in its last five outings. Kevin Martin led the Timberwolves with 16 points and Justin Hamilton tallied 15 off the bench. Andrew Wiggins, Adreian Payne, Gorgui Dieng and Chase Budinger each chipped in 10 points for Minnesota, which has lost six of its last seven.


Final Score: Golden State 105, Detroit 98

Klay Thompson scored 27 points to help make up for a rare off-shooting night from Steph Curry, and the Golden State Warriors rallied in the fourth to top the Detroit Pistons 105-98 and improve to 28-2 at home. Andre Iguodala, Marreese Speights and Leandro Barbosa combined for 35 points off the bench. Golden State’s bench outscored Detroit’s, 39-25. Curry was held in check for most of the night, finishing with nine points and 11 assists on 4-of-15 shooting. It was the first time he failed to reach double figures since Nov. 21. Detroit fell for the eighth straight game despite a monster 20-point, 27-rebound effort from Andre Drummond. Greg Monroe also netted 20 points in the setback.


Final Score: Portland 105, Houston 100

LaMarcus Aldridge posted 26 points with 14 rebounds as the Portland Trail Blazers held off Corey Brewer and the Houston Rockets with a 105-100 win on Wednesday night. Nicolas Batum had 18 points, nine rebounds and six assists and Robin Lopez chipped in 16 points and 10 rebounds for Portland, which has won six of seven. Corey Brewer finished with 23 points for the Rockets, who had their two-game winning streak snapped, but it was his fourth-quarter performance that stood out in this one.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Jays lose Stroman to torn ACL

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman will miss the 2015 season after suffering a torn ACL in his left knee.

The 23-year-old right-hander was hurt Tuesday morning during pitchers’ fielding practice.

“Beyond devastated. Not being able to compete with my brothers each and every day is extremely disappointing,“ Stroman wrote Tuesday on Twitter. “Still can’t believe it.“

Stroman was expected to be a key piece to Toronto’s starting rotation this season after a strong rookie campaign. He was 11-6 with a 3.65 ERA and 111 strikeouts over 130 2/3 innings in 26 games, including 20 starts, in 2014.


►  Padres agree to terms with 21 players

The San Diego Padres agreed to terms with 21 players on contracts for the upcoming season, including new acquisitions Wil Myers and Will Middlebrooks.

The deals, announced Tuesday, mean every player on the Padres’ 40-man roster is signed for 2015.

In addition to Myers and Middlebrooks, the Padres also agreed to terms with catchers Tim Federowicz and Derek Norris; infielders Alex Dickerson, Taylor Lindsey, Tommy Medica, Yangervis Solarte and Cory Spangenberg; and outfielders Abraham Almonte and Rymer Liriano.

They locked up pitchers Kevin Quackenbush, Odrisamer Despaigne, Leonel Campos, Tayron Guerrero, Casey Kelly, Brandon Maurer, Nick Vincent, Robbie Erlin, Frank Garces and Alex Torres.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Wednesday, March 11)


Final Score: Toronto 4, Buffalo 3 (SO)

Tyler Bozak netted the tying score late in the contest, then recorded the winning goal in the shootout as Toronto clipped Buffalo, 4-3, at Air Canada Centre. Brandon Kozun and Leo Komarov also scored for the Maple Leafs, who put a three-game losing streak to rest. Jonathan Bernier came up with 30 saves in regulation and overtime then stopped all three Buffalo shooters. Tyler Ennis, Matt Moulson and Johan Larsson each picked up a goal and two assists for the Sabres, who have lost five straight. Anders Lindback made 31 saves in defeat.


Final Score: NY Rangers 3, Washington 1

Cam Talbot finished with 28 saves and Martin St. Louis registered a key late insurance goal as the New York Rangers continued their recent stretch of sterling play, downing Washington by a 3-1 count at Verizon Center. Carl Hagelin and J.T. Miller also tallied with Kevin Hayes adding a pair of assists for the Rangers, who vaulted over the idle Islanders to assume first place in the Metropolitan Division. New York’s 12-1-2 stretch also has it contending for the top spot in the Eastern Conference and the entire NHL. Alex Ovechkin’s 45th goal of the season proved to be the sole offense for the Capitals, who had won three of four coming in. Braden Holtby took the loss despite also stopping 28 shots.


Final Score: Calgary 6, Anaheim 3

Johnny Gaudreau and Matt Stajan each tallied twice as Calgary took down Anaheim, 6-3, at the Saddledome. Sean Monahan and Jiri Hudler added scores while Kris Russell and Dennis Wideman posted three assists apiece for the Flames, winners in five of their last seven games. Karri Ramo made 29 saves for the win. Ryan Getzlaf picked up a pair of goals and Hampus Lindholm posted the other score for the Ducks, who have lost three in a row. John Gibson surrendered all six goals on just 23 shots in defeat.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Mauresmo gets the call to the Hall

Former world No. 1 and two-time Grand Slam champion Amelie Mauresmo has been elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Mauresmo captured Australian Open and Wimbledon titles in 2006 and was ranked No. 1 for 39 weeks during her career. She became the first Frenchwoman to reach the top of the rankings since they were introduced in the 1970s.

The 35-year-old Mauresmo went 25-23 in her career WTA finals, including a runner-up finish at the 1999 Aussie Open, and captured a Fed Cup with France in 2003 as well as an Olympic silver medal in Athens in 2004.

She currently serves as the coach for world No. 4 men’s star, Andy Murray.

The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held July 18 in Newport, Rhode Island.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Injury sidelines Take Charge Brandi

Champion filly Take Charge Brandi has an injury and will be sidelined for about two months.

Take Charge Brandi, owned by Willis Horton and trained by D. Wayne Lukas, has a non-displaced chip in her right knee and is expected to be out of competition for about 60 days. The 3-year-old filly, winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, was to start in this Saturday’s Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

Lukas discovered the chip Tuesday morning following training Monday. He said Take Charge Brandi was “a little tender” Tuesday morning and he first thought it might be an issue with a foot.

“We’re going to take a positive approach to this,“ Lukas said. “She’s only going to be out 60 days.“

X-Rays were taken and sent to Dr. Larry Bramlage at Rood & Riddle in Kentucky. Take Charge Brandi will be taken to Rood & Riddle Wednesday so that Bramlage can determine whether surgery is necessary.

In her seasonal debut, Take Charge Brandi won the Martha Washington Stakes at Oaklawn. The filly has won five of nine starts for $1,680,126.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NASCAR penalizes Keselowski, Allgaier’s crew chiefs

NASCAR handed down penalties to two crew chiefs in the Sprint Cup Series on Tuesday for technical violations discovered this past weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Paul Wolfe, the crew chief for Brad Keselowski’s No. 2 Team Penske Ford, was placed on probation through December 31, and Steve Addington, the crew chief for Justin Allgaier’s No. 51 HScott Motorsports Chevrolet, received a $25,000 for separate violations.

According to a news release from NASCAR, the right and left rear quarter panel wheel openings on Keselowski’s No. 2 car were modified after qualifying inspection on Friday. The infraction is a P2 level penalty and violates the following sections in the 2015 NASCAR rule book:

12.1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing;

20.4.b: Body - All approved OEM-manufactured body components must be used as supplied except as required to stiffen, or to attach to other vehicle components. Tolerances from CAD surfaces and template tolerances are provided to allow for manufacturing, fabrication, and installation variability;

20.4.2: Surface Conformance - Coordinate measuring machines, scanning equipment, and templates, among other tools, will be used to inspect body surfaces for conformance to the approved OEM and NASCAR CAD files.

Allgaier’s No. 51 car was found to be too light during post-race inspection on Sunday. The infraction is a P3 level penalty and violates the following sections:

12.1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing;

20.3.5: Added ballast containers:

a) Any and all ballast added to the vehicle must be bolted inside an added ballast container, inside the main frame rails, and/or inside the front sway bar.

b) Added ballast must be secured in a manner that will prevent movement of the ballast during an event.

20.17.2.2: Overall vehicle weight after competition:

b) After a vehicle has raced, only water in the radiator, oil in the engine reservoir tank, and fuel in the fuel cell may be added. Wheels and tires may not be changed, unless otherwise authorized by NASCAR Officials.

c) After a vehicle has raced, the minimum overall vehicle weight of all vehicles must be within 0.5% of the minimum overall vehicle weight required at the start of the race.

The ballast was observed falling off the No. 51 during the race, and the car did not meet post-race minimum weight requirements.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Impact’s Mapp to miss 4 months

Montreal Impact midfielder Justin Mapp will miss four months of action after suffering a fracture and dislocation of his right elbow.

Mapp suffered the injury in the 82nd minute of Montreal’s season-opening 1-0 loss to D.C. United on Saturday when he came together in a challenge with United goalkeeper Bill Hamid and landed awkwardly on his arm.

Mapp, 30, just entered his fourth season with the Impact, where he has continue to be one of the premier wingers in MLS.

He will remain one game shy of 300 regular season appearances for the time being, with 22 goals and 65 assists to his name since entering the league in 2002 with D.C. United.

► 



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Real Madrid survives Schalke scare

Schalke claimed a 4-3 win at the Bernabeu on Tuesday, but Real Madrid advanced to the Champions League quarterfinals for the fifth straight year with a 5-4 aggregate score.

After a comprehensive 2-0 victory in the opening leg, Real Madrid started the replay in the driver’s seat, but Schalke put some fear into the Spanish giants by opening the scoring in the 20th minute as Christian Fuchs collected a cross from the right flank and hammered a left-footed strike past Iker Casillas at the near post.

The hosts, though, managed to respond within five minutes as Cristiano Ronaldo nodded home a corner kick in the 25th.

Schalke maintained the pressure and nearly went back in front five minutes before the break when Klaas Jan Huntelaar rattled the crossbar with a right- footed shot from outside the box.

The Dutchman made no mistake moments later when pounced on a rebound conceded by Casillas to steer the go-ahead goal into the back of the net from close range.

It looked as if the German club would carry the lead into the interval, but Ronaldo struck again on the stroke of halftime by heading a superb cross from Fabio Coentrao into the upper corner at the back post.

Karim Benzema thought he had put the tie to rest within eight minutes of the restart as the Frenchman collected a through ball and drifted across the face of goal before firing home Madrid’s third of the match.

Schalke, however, did not go down without a fight as Leroy Sane answered four minutes later with a stunning left-footed strike that deceived Casillas on its way into the back of the net.

Huntelaar kept Schalke’s hopes alive five minutes from time with a brilliant run through the Madrid defense and an equally impressive shot off the underside of the crossbar and into the back of the net.

Casillas then produced a crucial save two minutes later, punching Sane’s dipping shot to safety to keep Madrid in front on aggregate.

Madrid staved off some late pressure to clinch a spot in the next round, but the crowd at the Bernabeu was quite dissatisfied with the performance, jeering the home side following the final whistle.

FC Porto qualified for the quarterfinals with relative ease on Tuesday, cruising past FC Basel in a 4-0 home win in the second leg.

Porto took the lead in impressive fashion in the 14th minute when Vacine Brahimi curled an inch-perfect free kick over the wall and just under the crossbar.

The hosts were two goals to the good in just the second minute of the second half thanks to Hector Herrera, and Casemiro made it three in the 56th minute with a superb free kick into the upper corner.

Vincent Aboubakar finished off the impressive outing with a goal in the 76th minute, sealing Porto’s spot in the next round by making the aggregate score 5-1 in favor of the Portuguese side.

Basel’s miserable outing was capped off in the final minutes with defender Walter Samuel receiving his marching orders by way of a second caution of the match.


►  Nastasic completes Schalke move

Schalke announced on Wednesday that the club has completed the signing of defender Matija Nastasic after activating a transfer clause in his contract.

Nastasic was loaned to Schalke in January from Manchester City with the Bundesliga club having the option to make the move permanent.

And the club’s general manager, Horst Heldt, has done just that, keeping the Serbia international in Germany.

The 21-year-old Nastasic has appeared in nine games for Schalke since arriving at the club, including both games against Real Madrid in the knockout round of the Champions League.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Former Steelers OLB Worilds calling it quits

Former Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Jason Worilds has decided to step away from football to pursue other interests.

It is the third shocking retirement in the last 24 hours.

30-year-old linebacker Patrick Willis and 26-year-old quarterback Jake Locker also decided to walk away from the game.

Worilds released a statement through his player representative Jason Bernstein.

“I appreciate all of the interest from the organizations that have reached out to us the past few days,“ the statement reads. “With that being said, after much thought & consideration I have chosen to step away from football as I have opted to pursue other interests.

I am especially grateful of the opportunity to play before some of the greatest fans in football today. Despite any concern and speculation that may ensue, I appreciate those that are respectful of my decision.“

Worilds was set to make a lot of money after recording 15 1/2 sacks over his last two seasons with the Steelers, who he spent his entire six-year career with. He tallied 59 tackles and 7 1/2 sacks with the team last season.


►  Eagles agree to 1-year deal with CB Thurmond

The Philadelphia Eagles agreed to terms with cornerback Walter Thurmond on a one-year contract, the team announced Wednesday.

Thurmond, 27, becomes the 10th former Oregon Ducks player brought in by coach Chip Kelly, who was Oregon’s head coach from 2009-2012.

Thurmond is coming off an injury-shortened season with the New York Giants. He landed on injured reserve after tearing his pectoral in a Week 2 loss against Arizona.

A fourth-round pick of Seattle in 2010, Thurmond was a valuable member of the Seahawks’ team that won Super Bowl XLVIII following the 2013 season. He has registered 84 tackles, 16 passes defensed and one interception in 36 career games.

The move reunites Thurmond with cornerback Byron Maxwell, who signed a six- year contract reportedly worth $63 million. Thurmond and Maxwell were teammates in Seattle.

The Eagles also officially announced that quarterback Mark Sanchez has re- signed with the club on a two-year deal.


►  Jags make Julius Thomas signing official

The Jacksonville Jaguars and free-agent tight end Julius Thomas officially agreed to a multi-year contract, the team announced Wednesday.

According to reports, Thomas, 26, signed a five-year deal worth an average of $9.2 million each season with $24 million guaranteed.

Thomas earned his second straight Pro Bowl selection after catching 43 passes for 489 yards and 12 touchdowns in 13 games this past season. He had 65 receptions for 788 yards and 12 touchdowns over 14 games during a breakout campaign in 2013.


►  Long-time Titans DB Finnegan retires

Nine-year NFL veteran Cortland Finnegan announced on Wednesday that he is retiring.

Finnegan made the announcement via his Instagram page.

“Spent 9 years doing something I Loved and it has payed off in so many ways.. To say I have been blessed is an understatement I am forever thankful.. I have made my share of mistakes and had moments of glory. I even got into a fight in an NFL Game ( he hits like a bish) ????. I’m thankful for the friends I made on and off the field love yAll.. Time to move on and enjoy new people new places and new ideas.. I forgot to thank all the haters I love yAll to”

Finnegan was known as a feisty, in-your-face player. The “fight” he is referring to is when he and then-Houston Texan Andre Johnson got into an on- field skirmish during a game.

Finnegan played last season with the Miami Dolphins. He began his career in 2006 with Tennessee, playing six seasons with the Titans before moving on to the St. Louis Rams for two years.

He ends his career with 645 tackles, seven sacks, 18 interceptions, five forced fumbles and four touchdowns.


►  Bears, LB McPhee agree to 5-year deal

The Chicago Bears agreed to terms with Pernell McPhee on a five-year contract, the team announced Wednesday.

McPhee, 26, spent the previous four seasons primarily as a reserve linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens.

A fifth-round pick in 2011 out of Mississippi State, McPhee registered a career-high 7 1/2 sacks in 16 games last season. He has 17 sacks in 60 career games.


►  Report: Texans send Fitzpatrick to Jets

The New York Jets have reportedly acquired quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick from the Houston Texans.

The New York Post is reporting the trade, citing an unidentified source. ESPN is also reporting the trade, adding the compensation is a late-round draft pick and that the Jets will be on the hook for the remaining $3.25 million on his contract.

Fitzpatrick played in 12 games last season for the Texans, completing 63.1% of his passes for 2,483 yards with 17 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

In 97 games since entering the league in 2005, Fitzpatrick has completed 60.2% of his passes for 19,273 yards with 123 TDs and 101 picks.


►  Browns re-sign Marlon Moore

The Cleveland Browns re-signed wide receiver and special teams contributor Marlon Moore, the team announced Wednesday.

Moore, 27, averaged 24.8 yards on his 13 kick returns and ranked fourth on the team with 10 special-teams tackles last season.

The Fresno State product joined the Browns in 2014 after splitting the previous season with the San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins. He has 19 receptions for 306 yards and two touchdowns in 56 career games.


►  Cardinals sign Iupati, Peters, Weatherspoon

The Arizona Cardinals have agreed to terms with free agents Mike Iupati, Corey Peters and Sean Weatherspoon.

Mike Iupati, an offensive lineman, agreed to a five-year contract, while defensive tackle Corey Peters agreed to a three-year contract and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon agreed to a one-year deal.

Iupati played the past five seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and has been a Pro Bowl selection each of the last three years. He was selected by San Francisco in the first round (17th overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Idaho and started all 75 games he appeared in with the 49ers.

Peters joins the Cardinals from the Atlanta Falcons where he played the previous five years after being drafted in the third round (83rd overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Kentucky.

Peters played in 71 games with 55 starts and collected 175 tackles and 11 sacks.

Weatherspoon comes to Arizona after spending the past five years in Atlanta where he appeared in 47 games with 41 starts and had 336 tackles and eight sacks.

A first-round pick of the Falcons in 2010, Weatherspoon spent last season on injured reserve after he suffered an Achilles injury in June.


►  Chiefs officially sign Maclin

The Kansas City chiefs made it official Wednesday, reuniting wide receiver Jeremy Maclin with head coach Andy Reid.

Maclin, who signed a one-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles prior to last season after missing all of 2013 with a torn ACL, caught 85 passes for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns while playing all 16 games.

Reid was the head coach of the Eagles when they selected Maclin in the first round of the 2009 draft.

Maclin played in 75 games with the Eagles and his career numbers include 343 receptions for 4,771 yards and 36 touchdowns.

Kansas City did not have a receiver with a touchdown catch in 2014.

The Gilmer Free Press


References
ABC - American Broadcasting Company
CBS - Columbia Broadcast System
FOX - Fox Entertainment Group
NBC - National Broadcasting Company
JIP - Joined in Progress
DSS - DIRECTV
TSN - Sports Network (Canada)
SNET/SN - Rogers SportsNet (Canada)
RDS - Reseau des sports
MSG - Madison Square Garden Network
TNT - Turner Network Television
TBS - Turner Broadcasting System
SNY - SportsNet New York
CBSSN - CBS - College Sports Network
CSN - Comcast SportsNet
TCN - The Comcast Network
NBCSN - NBC Sports Network
NESN - New England Sports Network
MASN - Mid-Atlantic Sports Network
ROOT - Root Sports (Pittsburgh, Northwest, Rocky Mountain)
CST - Cox Sports Television
FCS - FOX College Sports
FS - FOX Sports Regional
RSN - Regional Sports Networks
CPTV - Connecticut Public Broadcasting
TVG - Horse Racing Channel
FS1 - FOX Sports 1
TWC - Time Warner Cable Sports Channel
* - If Necessary


THURSDAY, MARCH 12, 2015
Major League Baseball - Spring Training
Baltimore vs. St. Louis, 1:05 PM - FS-Midwest
Miami vs. Minnesota, 1:05 PM - FS-North, MLB Network
Washington vs. NY Mets, 1:10 PM - SNY
Kansas City vs. Cleveland, 4:05 PM - SportsTime Ohio
Chicago Cubs vs. LA Angels, 4:10 PM - FSN-W, MLB Network
Atlanta vs. NY Yankees, 7:05 PM - YES
Los Angeles vs. San Diego, 9:15 PM - SportsNet LA, MLB Network
National Basketball Association
Memphis at Washington, 7:00 PM - TNT
Milwaukee at Indiana, 7:00 PM - FS-Wisconsin, Indiana, DSS
Houston at Utah, 9:00 PM - ROOT-Southwest, Northwest, DSS
Cleveland at San Antonio, 9:30 PM - TNT
New York at LA Lakers, 10:30 PM - MSG, Time Warner Sports, DSS
National Hockey League
Edmonton at Pittsburgh, 7:00 PM - SNET-West, ROOT-Pittsburgh, DSS
Tampa Bay at Boston, 7:00 PM - SunSports, NESN, DSS
Dallas at Carolina, 7:00 PM - FS-Southwest, Carolina, DSS
Columbus at Detroit, 7:30 PM - FS-Ohio, Detroit, NHL Network, DSS
Ottawa at Montreal, 7:30 PM - RDS, TSN5, DSS
Winnipeg at Florida, 7:30 PM - TSN3, FS-Florida, DSS
Philadelphia at St. Louis, 8:00 PM - CSN-Philadelphia, FS-Midwest, DSS
New Jersey at Colorado, 9:00 PM - MSG+, Altitude, DSS
Los Angeles at Vancouver, 10:00 PM - FS-West, SNET-Pacific, DSS
Chicago at Arizona, 10:00 PM - WGN, FS-Arizona, DSS
Nashville at San Jose, 10:30 PM - FS-Tennessee, CSN-California, DSS
College Basketball
Michigan vs. Illinois, 12:00 PM - Big Ten Network
La Salle vs. Massachusetts, 12:00 PM - NBCSN
Big East Tournament, 12:00 PM - FS1
ACC Tournament, 12:00 PM - ACC Network, ESPN
West Virginia vs. Baylor, 12:30 PM - ESPN 2
Alabama vs. Florida, 1:00 PM - SEC Network
Conference USA Tournament, 1:00 PM - American Sports Network
ACC Tournament, 2:00 PM - ACC Network, ESPN
Big Ten Tournament, 2:25 PM - Big Ten Network
Big 12 Tournament, 2:30 PM - ESPN 2
St. John’s vs. Providence, 2:30 PM - FS1
Atlantic 10 Tournament, 2:30 PM - NBCSN
Mountain West Tournament, 3:00 PM - CBSSN
CS Northridge vs. UC Davis, 3:00 PM - FS-Prime Ticket
Pac-12 Tournament, 3:10 PM - Pac-12 Network
UCF vs. East Carolina, 3:30 PM - ESPN U
Conference USA Tournament, 3:30 PM - American Sports Network
SEC Tournament, 3:30 PM - SEC Network
Hawaii vs. Long Beach State, 5:30 PM - FS-Prime Ticket
Utah State vs. Wyoming, 5:30 PM - CBSSN
Pac-12 Tournament, 5:40 PM - Pac-12 Network
Southland Tournament, 6:00 PM - Southland Digital Network
Texas State vs. Texas-Arlington, 6:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Houston vs. Tulane, 6:00 PM - ESPNews
Northwestern vs. Indiana, 6:30 PM - ESPN 2
Saint Joseph’s vs. St. Bonaventure, 6:30 PM - NBCSN
ACC Tournament, 7:00 PM - ACC Network, ESPN
Big East Tournament, 7:00 PM - FS1
Big 12 Tournament, 7:00 PM - ESPN U
Conference USA Tournament, 7:00 PM - American Sports Net
Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt, 7:00 PM - SEC Network
South Florida vs. Connecticut, 8:00 PM - ESPNews
Ark-Little Rock vs. South Alabama, 8:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Southland Tournament, 8:30 PM - Southland Digital Network
Big Ten Tournament, 8:55 PM - ESPN 2
Atlantic 10 Tournament, 9:00 PM - NBCSN
ACC Tournament, 9:00 PM - ACC Network, ESPN
Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma, 9:00 PM - ESPN U
Mountain West Tournament, 9:00 PM - NBCSN
UC Riverside vs. UC Irvine, 9:00 PM - FS-Prime Ticket
Pac-12 Tournament, 9:10 PM - Pac-12 Network
Xavier vs. Butler, 9:30 PM - FS1
Conference USA Tournament, 9:30 PM - American Sports Network
SEC Tournament, 9:30 PM - SEC Network
Fresno State vs. Colorado State, 11:30 PM - CBSSN
Cal Poly vs. UC Santa Barbara, 11:30 PM - FS-Prime Ticket
Pac-12 Tournament, 11:40 PM - ESPN
Women’s College Basketball
Conference USA Tournament, 12:00 PM - American Sports Network
MEAC Tournament, 12:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Conference USA Tournament, 2:30 PM - American Sports Network
MEAC Tournament, 2:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Loyola-Chicago vs. Bradley, 5:07 PM - ESPN3.com
Conference USA Tournament, 6:00 PM - American Sports Network
Illinois State vs. Evansville, 8:07 PM - ESPN3.com
Conference USA Tournament, 8:30 PM - American Sports Network
Golf
EUROPEAN - Tshwane Open, 4:30 AM - Golf Channel
EUROPEAN - Tshwane Open, 8:30 AM - Golf Channel
PGA - Valspar Championship, 3:00 PM - Golf Channel

Sports News   150311

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The Gilmer Free Press

►  Area High Schools Boys Basketball Regional Game Results

(Tuesday, March 10)


#8 Martinsburg 78     Lewis County 41

Parkersburg 66     #4 Morgantown 65

#2 Parkersburg South 55     Preston 41



The Gilmer Free Press

►  2015 MEN’S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP

2015 MEN’S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
Wednesday, March 11
#8 Kansas State vs. #9 TCU 6:00 PM
ESPNU
#7 Texas vs. #10 Texas Tech 8:00 PM
ESPNU
Thursday, March 12
#4 Baylor vs. #5 West Virginia 11:30 AM
ESPN2
#1 Kansas vs. G1 Winner 1:30 PM
ESPN2
#2 Iowa State vs. G2 Winner 6:00 PM
ESPNU
#3 Oklahoma vs. #6 Oklahoma State 8:00 PM
ESPNU
Friday, March 13
G3 Winner vs. G4 Winner 6:00 PM
ESPN or ESPN2
G5 Winner vs. G6 Winner 8:00 PM
ESPN or ESPN2
Saturday, March 14
G7 Winner vs. G8 Winner 5:00 PM
ESPN
All times Central. Times / network lineups are subject to change
The second game of each session begins 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game
All games also available via WatchESPN


<The Gilmer Free Press

►  Top-25 College Men’s Basketball Game Results

(Tuesday, March 10)


Final Score: (7) Gonzaga 91, BYU 75

Kyle Wiltjer scored 18 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, and the seventh-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs captured their 14th WCC title with a 91-75 win over the BYU Cougars on Tuesday. Kevin Pangos added 16 points and five assists for the Bulldogs (32-2), who played in their 18th straight WCC Tournament final. Domantas Sabonis and Gary Bell Jr. had 15 points apiece. Kyle Collinsworth ended with 28 points, eight rebounds and five assists for the Cougars (25-9), who had an eight-game winning streak snapped. Tyler Haws and Skyler Halford contributed 15 and 13 points, respectively.



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►  NBA Game Results

(Tuesday, March 10)


Final Score: Indiana 118, Orlando 86

Rodney Stuckey had 34 points, seven assists and six rebounds as the Indiana Pacers routed the Orlando Magic 118-86 on Tuesday night. Damjan Rudez posted 17 points and five assists for the red-hot Pacers, who have won six straight and nine of their last 10 games. Luis Scola added 15 points and 10 rebounds.


Final Score: New Orleans 111, Brooklyn 91

One night after scoring a career-high 43 points in a nail-biter win over the Bucks, Anthony Davis had a much easier time against the Nets. Davis finished with a pedestrian 15 points as New Orleans rolled to a 111-91 win over Brooklyn on Tuesday. Quincy Pondexter and Alexis Ajinca netted 17 apiece to lead the Pelicans, while Eric Gordon and Norris Cole each had 16. Cole started in place of Tyreke Evans, who left Monday’s win with an ankle injury.


Final Score: Cleveland 127, Dallas 94

LeBron James scored 27 points with eight assists and seven rebounds to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers in a 127-94 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night. Kyrie Irving supplied 22 points, while J.R. Smith and Kevin Love each tallied 21 points for Cleveland, which has won four of its last five games. Chandler Parsons paced Dallas with 18 points, Monta Ellis had 17 and Amar’e Stoudemire added 15 points off the bench.


Final Score: San Antonio 117, Toronto 107

Kawhi Leonard had 24 points, 11 rebounds and five steals as the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Toronto Raptors 117-107 on Tuesday night. Tony Parker posted 23 points and nine assists for the Spurs, who have won six straight on the heels of a four-game losing streak. Tim Duncan, who left with an elbow injury, provided 12 points and 13 boards in the triumph. Kyle Lowry supplied 32 points and five helpers, while Amir Johnson added 16 points and 14 boards for Toronto, which has dropped four consecutive contests and nine of its last 10.


Final Score: Utah 87, New York 82

Derrick Favors had 29 points and 12 rebounds as the Utah Jazz defeated the New York Knicks 87-82 on Tuesday night. Rodney Hood netted 17 points, while Rudy Gobert added 10 points and 14 boards for the Jazz, who have won six of their last seven games. Gordon Hayward missed his first game of the season due to a lower back strain.


Final Score: LA Lakers 93, Detroit 85

Jordan Hill scored 16 points to lead a balanced scoring attack in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 93-85 win over the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night. Ed Davis and Wesley Johnson had 13 points, Jeremy Lin totaled 12 with seven rebounds and five assists, and Wayne Ellington added 11 points in the win. Jordan Clarkson and Tarik Black each posted 10 points for the Lakers, with Clarkson dishing out a career-high eight assists. Los Angeles snapped its five-game losing skid.



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►  Aversa, Fain Earn First MEC Weekly Softball Honors

Faimont State’s Ericka Aversa is the Mountain East Conference Player of the Week, while Charleston’s Courtney Fain is the league’s Pitcher of the Week.

Aversa, a senior from Fairmont, WV, batted .636 (7-for-11) to help the Falcons off to a 4-0 start this season. She drove in six runs and scored three times, and notched a pair of doubles and a home run.

Fain, a senior from Urbana, Ohio, went 2-0 with a save last week for the Golden Eagles. She gave up just three runs and had 22 strikeouts in 16.1 innings of work in appearances against Pitt-Johnstown, Ohio Dominican and Lock Haven.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Wilson, Kelly Honored By MEC

Shepherd’s Matt Wilson is the Mountain East Conference Player of the Week, while Concord’s Chris Kelly is the league’s Pitcher of the Week.

Wilson, a senior outfielder from Baltimore, MD, batted .428 going 6-for-14 in a 4-2 week for the Rams. He had two doubles, a pair of walks, and reached base four more times. He was hit four times in Sunday’s game tying an NCAA Division II record.

Kelly, a junior from Grundy, Va., pitched a complete game, five-hit shutout in 1-0 win vs Urbana. He struck out a career-high seven batters and stranded three baserunners as he improved to 1-1 on the season.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Top Shelf: Cameron’s Sens back on track

Perhaps the last straw for Paul MacLean in Ottawa came back in December when the now-fired Senators head coach said he was “scared to death every day of who we’re playing.“

It’s amazing what a little positive reinforcement can do because under Dave Cameron, it’s the opposition who is frightened to face the Sens.

Cameron served as an assistant during MacLean’s tenure, and he’s heeded the lessons learned by his predecessor’s tumultuous tenure in Canada’s capital.

MacLean won the Jack Adams Trophy after the lockout-shortened season of 2012-13, but that high point followed by a steady decline. His tendency to criticize and seemingly blame Ottawa’s players openly in the media for the rough times only hastened his demise.

It’s been three months since Cameron was handed the keys to the operation in early December, and after an inauspicious start to his reign, he finally has the Senators back playing with confidence.

Ottawa enters Tuesday’s big home test against the Boston Bruins, holder of the Eastern Conference’s last playoff spot, riding a tremendous hot stretch. The club has forced itself into the postseason race thanks to a 8-0-1 point streak and it only has lost once in regulation over the last 13 games, posting a 10-1-2 mark.

Whether or not Cameron leads the Sens to the playoffs, the new bench boss has at the very least managed to get his team to skate with passion again. Love for the game was something lacking in the latter days of MacLean’s three-plus years as coach.

“There was an uneasiness in our room,“ Senators general manager Bryan Murray said at the time of MacLean’s firing.

Credit Cameron for alleviating some of the tension, but Murray deserves his due as well. The GM could have played wait and see with his new coach and slap an interim tag on Cameron. Instead, Cameron was given the title of head coach in full, a vote of confidence that he was able to pay forward to his players.

The club’s resurgence hasn’t been all about Cameron. As is often the case, a bit of luck from an unforeseen series of events also has fueled the turnaround.

Right before Ottawa began to take off in the middle of February, things seemed bleak when injuries hit both of the team’s top two goaltenders—Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner. Forced to hand over the starting job to untested rookie Andrew Hammond and what followed was a pleasant surprise.

Although he’s not exactly young, considering he turned 27 on February 27, Hammond had only one NHL appearance and zero starts before getting his big shot. The former Bowling Green State netminder helped lift the Senators out of the doldrums, going 7-0-1 with a sparkling 1.43 goals against average and .954 save percentage.

Hammond became only the second goalie in the last 76 years to allow two goals or less in each of his first eight NHL starts, joining Los Angeles Kings backup Martin Jones, who pulled off the same feat last season.

But, in perhaps the first controversial decision of Cameron’s tenure, the head coach has decided to turn back to Anderson as the No. 1 option in net now that the veteran is recovered from the hand injury that knocked him out of action at the end of January.

Anderson returned to the lineup Sunday and made 42 saves in a wild 5-4 shootout win over visiting Calgary, which rallied from a four-goal deficit to steal a point. After surviving a shooting gallery against the Flames, Cameron has decided to go with Anderson again on Tuesday, when Ottawa tries to take a chunk out of Boston’s lead for the last wild card spot in the East.

It’s difficult to gauge how Cameron’s players feel about their coach putting Hammond on the shelf in the midst of his hot streak. Like most professional athletes, hockey players usually don’t like any changes when they’re in a groove, but this could be different.

Cameron said Anderson “gives us the best chance to win,“ which doesn’t really mesh with what has happened in Ottawa over the last several weeks. However, if MacLean’s instinct was to blame his best players for the club’s failings, Cameron is being consistent by letting Anderson get a chance to win back the starting role.

The fact nobody really expected Ottawa to make the playoffs when Cameron took over also is a factor here. Of course, a surprise trip to the postseason would be great, but Cameron’s main job has already exceeded expectations by getting a group that had been battered by criticism from within to trust in themselves again.

There is little doubt Ottawa’s return to relevancy has been exciting for the team and its fan base. Playoffs or not, Cameron at least has set his team up to succeed in 2015-16, and that’s more than enough for now.    ~~  Dan Di Sciullo ~~


►  NHL Game Results

(Tuesday, March 10)


Final Score: NY Rangers 2, NY Islanders 1

Cam Talbot stopped 29 shots and Rick Nash scored the winner early in the third as the New York Rangers defeated the New York Islanders, 2-1, in a pivotal Metropolitan Division battle. The win moved the Rangers to one point back of the Islanders for the top spot in the division, and the Rangers still have four games in hand on the Islanders. Kevin Hayes scored the other goal for the Rangers, who have won three of their last four. Anders Lee had the only goal of the game for the Islanders, who have lost four of their last six games.


Final Score: Dallas 2, Philadelphia 1

Vernon Fiddler scored 13:50 into the third period to lift the Dallas Stars to a 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night. It was just the second time the Stars beat the Flyers in their last 10 meetings dating back to the 2008-09 season. Brett Ritchie also scored and Kari Lehtonen made 25 saves for the Stars, who bounced back from a loss at Tampa Bay on Saturday to improve to 3-1 since a six-game losing streak. Lehtonen had never beaten the Flyers before in 13 previous meetings, including 12 starts. Luke Schenn had Philadelphia’s only goal early in the first period. Steve Mason did all he could in the loss, stopping 37 of the 39 shots he faced as the Flyers suffered their first home loss in regulation since Feb. 17. They had been 4-0-2 at Wells Fargo Center since then. It was Philadelphia’s third loss in a row overall at a time in the season when the team should be making a playoff push.


Final Score: Columbus 4, Carolina 3 (SO)

Ryan Johansen scored the lone goal of the shootout to lift the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. Johansen, Columbus’ third shooter, slowly skated in, patiently waited for Cam Ward to move first and slid the puck past the netminder’s pad to put the Blue Jackets ahead. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped Jeff Skinner’s attempt to seal the outcome. Scott Hartnell scored twice, Rene Bourque also lit the lamp and Bobrovsky made 29 saves for the Blue Jackets, who entered the game 1-7-1 over their last nine games. Special teams played an important part in the game as the Blue Jackets finished 3-for-5 on the power play, while the Hurricanes went 2-for-4. Justin Faulk provided a goal and two assists—all in the first period—and Eric Staal and Victor Rask each scored for the Hurricanes, who received 29 stops from Ward.


Final Score: Tampa Bay 1, Montreal 0 (OT)

In a game as tight as the standings, the Tampa Bay Lighting finally got one past Carey Price. Tyler Johnson scored 63 seconds into overtime, lifting the Lightning to a 1-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens in an Atlantic Division battle Tuesday night. The Lightning improved to 3-0 against the Canadiens this season, moving within a point of them for first place in the division. Price, chasing what would have been a career high-tying eighth shutout of the season, made 35 saves for the Canadiens, who were coming off a 2-0 win over Arizona on Saturday for their only victory on a four-game road trip (1-2-1). Ben Bishop had 19 saves for the Lightning to record his third shutout of the season and 11th of his career. He made six saves in the first period, 11 in the second and faced just two shots in the third.


Final Score: Boston 3, Ottawa 1

Ryan Spooner scored a pair of goals as the Boston Bruins halted the Ottawa Senators’ nine-game point streak with a 3-1 victory over on Tuesday. Loui Eriksson also lit the lamp for the Bruins, who have won three in a row. Tuukka Rask made 39 saves on his 28th birthday. Matt Puempel scored his first NHL goal for the Senators, who had a three-game winning streak snapped and lost in regulation for the first time since Feb. 16 against Carolina. Craig Anderson stopped 19-of-22 shots for Ottawa, which fell seven points behind Boston for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.


Final Score: St. Louis 5, Winnipeg 4

Barret Jackman’s surprising goal from the neutral zone with 1:03 to play lifted the St. Louis Blues to a thrilling 5-4 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday. Robert Bortuzzo gathered the puck off a neutral zone faceoff win and sent it across the ice to Jackman, who played the puck off the boards and fired it from above the blue line and past an unsuspecting Ondrej Pavelec for the game-winner. Not only did Jackman score from an unorthodox spot on the ice, but it was also his first goal since Dec. 11. Vladimir Tarasenko, Jori Lehtera and Jaden Schwartz each tallied a goal and an assist, Steve Ott also lit the lamp and Brian Elliott stopped made 12 saves for the Blues, who have won their last two games. Blake Wheeler and Andrew Ladd posted a goal and an assist, while Lee Stempniak and Michael Frolik scored for the Jets. Michael Hutchinson allowed four goals on seven shots and was replaced by Pavelec, who stopped 19 shots.


Final Score: Minnesota 6, New Jersey 2

Thomas Vanek scored twice to lead the Minnesota Wild in a 6-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday. Chris Stewart and Jared Spurgeon each posted a goal and an assist while Sean Bergenheim and Jason Pominville also scored for the Wild, who have won six of their last seven games. Devan Dubnyk gave up two goals on 32 shots. Dainius Zubrus and Scott Gomez each had a goal for the Devils, who had won three of four coming into the contest. Cory Schneider allowed five goals on 30 shots before being pulled early in the third. Keith Kinkaid gave up a goal on eight shots in relief.


Final Score: Los Angeles 5, Colorado 2

Brayden McNabb had a goal and two assists to lead the Los Angeles Kings to a 5-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday. Kyle Clifford had a goal and an assist while Jake Muzzin, Marian Gaborik and Jeff Carter all scored for the Kings, who have won three of four. Jonathan Quick stopped 21 shots in the win. Tyson Barrie and Alex Tanguay lit the lamp for the Avalanche, who had a three-game winning streak broken. Calvin Pickard was pulled in the first period after giving up three goals on eight shots, while Reto Berra turned aside 20-of-22 shots in relief.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Mauresmo gets the call to the Hall

Former world No. 1 and two-time Grand Slam champion Amelie Mauresmo has been elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Mauresmo captured Australian Open and Wimbledon titles in 2006 and was ranked No. 1 for 39 weeks during her career. She became the first Frenchwoman to reach the top of the rankings since they were introduced in the 1970s.

The 35-year-old Mauresmo went 25-23 in her career WTA finals, including a runner-up finish at the 1999 Aussie Open.

She currently serves as the coach for world No. 4 men’s star, Andy Murray.

The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held July 18 in Newport, Rhode Island.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Johnson moves to 7th in world rankings

Dustin Johnson claimed his first win after a six-month leave of absence from the tour, and that helped him return to the top-10 in the world rankings.

Johnson, who has at least one win in each of the last eight seasons on the PGA Tour, jumped nine spots to No. 7 after winning the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

Outside of the top-3 in the rankings, there was plenty of movement. Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson and Henrik Stenson were Nos. 1, 2 and 3 again this week. Watson did move a little closer to McIlroy with his third-place finish at Trump National Doral.

Australians Adam Scott and Jason Day exchanged places with Scott moving up to No. 4. Jim Furyk held steady in sixth and was followed by Johnson.

With Johnson’s big move, Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose and Jordan Spieth all dropped one spot and are eighth to 10th this week. Rickie Fowler stayed put at No. 11, while Martin Kaymer dropped two to 12th and Jimmy Walker remained 13th.

Matt Kuchar dipped a pair to 14th. Hideki Matsuyama and Patrick Reed slipped one notch apiece to 15 and 16. Billy Horschel and Brooks Koepka both climbed one spot to 17 and 18.

J.B. Holmes, who finished second to Johnson, soared 22 spots to 19th. Victor Dubuisson fell three to No. 20 and Phil Mickelson was bumped out of the top-20 as he was down one to 21st.

Trevor Fisher, Jr. earned his first European Tour title at the Africa Open, while Alex Cejka claimed his first PGA Tour victory at the Puerto Rico Open. Fisher jumped 113 spots to No. 158, while Cejka soared 122 places to No. 163.


►  This Week in Golf—March 12-15

PGA TOUR - VALSPAR CHAMPIONSHIP, Innisbrook Resort (Copperhead Course), Palm Harbor, Florida - The penultimate event of the Florida swing is this week with the Valspar Championship.

John Senden picked up his second PGA Tour title at this event last year. He was two strokes behind entering the final round, but a 1-under 70 on Sunday was enough for the win.

Third-round leader Robert Garrigus struggled to a 4-over 75 in the final round to drop into a share of fourth place. Garrigus never recovered from a double- bogey at the sixth.

Senden also held off Kevin Na, who shot 72 in the final round to end one back.

The field this week includes five of the top-10 players in the world - Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, Jim Furyk, Justin Rose and Jordan Spieth. Furyk has five straight top-20 finishes at this event, including a win in 2010 and a playoff loss in 2012.

Senden will not only battle a strong field at Innisbrook, but history as well. There have been no back-to-back champions, and just three of the last 14 winners have finished inside the top-10 in the title defense.

Danny Lee and Nicholas Thompson are both slated to make their 14th start in 16 events this season.

Golf Channel will have coverage on Thursday and Friday, then early coverage on the weekend before handing off to NBC.

The PGA Tour wraps up the Florida swing next week with the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where Matt Every beat Keegan Bradley by one stroke in 2014. Adam Scott led by three entering the final round, but stumbled to a 76 in the final round to fall into third place.


EUROPEAN TOUR

TSHWANE OPEN, Pretoria Country Club, Waterkloof, South Africa - The European Tour ends its run in South Africa this week with the Tshwane Open.

Ross Fisher was 13-under par after two rounds last year and entered the final round with a 5-shot lead. Michael Hoey closed within one on the back nine, but he found water at the 12th and that led to a double-bogey.

Fisher pushed his lead back to five as he rolled in an eagle effort at No. 15. He cruised home from there as he collected his fifth European Tour title, but first since the 2010 Irish Open.

The 34-year-old will defend his title against a field that includes Matteo Manassero, Andy Sullivan, who has won twice this season on the European Tour, and 2016 European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke.

Golf Channel has coverage of all four rounds.

The European Tour will be in Madeira next week for the Madeira Islands Open, where Daniel Brooks beat Scott Henry in a playoff last year. The tournament was cut to 36 holes as fog plagued the event.


WEB.COM TOUR

BRASIL CHAMPIONS, Sao Paulo Golf Club, Sao Paulo, Brazil - The Web.com Tour remains in South America for the Brasil Champions.

Jon Curran fired a 10-under 61 in the opening round last year and he went on to win by four strokes. Curran finished with a tournament record score of 25- under 259.

His total was six strokes better than Benjamin Alvarado’s winning score in the inaugural event in 2013. Curran’s total of 259 matched the fifth-best score in tour history.

Curran will not defend his title as he has moved on to the PGA Tour.

The first three winners of the season - Mathew Goggin, Patrick Rodgers and Andrew Landry - are all in the field this week.

The Web.com Tour wraps up its South America swing next week with the Chile Classic. Adam Hadwin birdied the final two holes of that event last year en route to beating Alistair Presnell by one stroke.


►  Trump National Los Angeles to host 2015 Grand Slam of Golf

The PGA of America announced on Tuesday that the 33rd PGA Grand Slam of Golf will be hosted by Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles this year.

The event, which is a two-day tournament featuring the four players who have won a major championship the past year, will be played October 20-21, 2015. This is a multi-year deal with Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles.

“The PGA of America begins a new chapter in celebrating the winners of the Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship through an exciting partnership with The Trump Organization, the owner and operator of a large portfolio of exceptional golf properties,“ said PGA of America President Derek Sprague. “The PGA Grand Slam of Golf has always been a showcase of the best in our game. We are pleased that Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles will provide a great challenge to the game’s finest players.“

This marks the first time in over 20 years that the Grand Slam of Golf will be held on the U.S. mainland. The last time this event was stateside was in 1992-93 at the PGA West Nicklaus Resort Course in La Quinta, California.

Port Royal Golf Course in Southampton, Bermuda, where 2014 U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer won last year, has hosted this event for the last six years from 2009-14 and was at the Mid Ocean Club in Tucker’s Town, Bermuda from 2007-08. Poipu Bay Golf Course in Koloa, Hawaii, was home to the event from 1994-2006.

Trump National Los Angeles will also play host to the 2015 PGA Junior League Golf Championship, which will be played in the days leading up to the Grand Slam of Golf on October 17-19.

Donald Trump-owned courses just finished up hosting a pair of events last week: The WGC-Cadillac Championship, won by Dustin Johnson, and the Puerto Rico Open, won by Alex Cejka in a five-man playoff.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  2015 Sprint Cup Driver Leaders

                                                                                                                                                                                                 
2015 Sprint Cup Driver Leaders
RankDriverPointsPB
1Kevin Harvick134—-
2Dale Earnhardt Jr.125-9
3Joey Logano123-11
4Martin Truex Jr.118-16
5A.J. Allmendinger100-34
6Kasey Kahne92-42
7Jimmie Johnson91-43
8 (T)Denny Hamlin87-47
8 (T)Casey Mears87-47
10Matt Kenseth85-49
11Greg Biffle84-50
12 (T)Ryan Newman82-52
12 (T)Paul Menard82-52
14Clint Bowyer81-53
15Aric Almirola80-54


►  2015 Xfinity Driver Leaders

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
2015 Xfinity Driver Leaders
RankDriverPointsPB
1Ty Dillon119—-
2Chris Buescher113-6
3Ryan Reed104-15
4Darrell Wallace Jr.103-16
5Chase Elliott95-24
6 (T)Regan Smith86-33
6 (T)Brendan Gaughan86-33
8David Starr83-36
9Elliott Sadler82-37
10Ross Chastain81-38
11Jeremy Clements75-44
12Dakoda Armstrong71-48
13 (T)J.J. Yeley70-49
13 (T)Daniel Suarez70-49
15 (T)Eric McClure64-55


The Gilmer Free Press

►  ‘15 Season Preview: Orlando hopes to make waves in MLS

Orlando City SC’s inaugural season in MLS is one littered with optimism.

With over 13,000 season ticket holders on the books before its opening match, Orlando’s supporters have their sights set on a postseason berth in the Eastern Conference, and it will be Brazilian superstar Kaka leading the charge.

At 32 years old, Kaka certainly has lost a step since the days of his FIFA Ballon d’Or capture (2007), but his skill and anticipatory instincts remain intact, which should serve him well in the slightly slower pace of MLS.

Of course, one-man teams never amount to much, but Orlando has managed to assemble one of the better MLS expansion rosters in recent memory.

Brek Shea will offer some dynamism to contrast Kaka’s skill and close control. The United States international also brings a wealth of versatility as he can operate underneath a striker, on the left flank, or even as a left-back. Wherever Shea is deployed, though, one thing is for certain: he possesses one of the most dangerous left foots in MLS.

Orlando also boasts some firepower up front, bringing in journeyman striker Danny Mwanga from the Colorado Rapids while landing University of Connecticut product Cyle Larin with the first overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft.

In addition to Larin and Mwanga, Orlando also acquired Honduras international forward Bryan Rochez. At 20 years of age, Rochez is one of the youngest Designated Players in the league, arriving in central Florida from Honduran Primera Division club Real Espana.

“We’re extremely delighted that Bryan is joining us for the 2015 season,“ Orlando City coach Adrian Heath said. “He’s a player that we’ve had our eyes on for quite some time now, as we believe that he has the ability to contribute to the team straight away.“

With the top selection in the MLS Expansion Draft, Orlando picked goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts from the Portland Timbers, giving the newcomers some instant stature and experience between the woodwork.

Orlando also added Tony Cascio, Pedro Ribeiro and Lewis Neal, but perhaps the best piece of business through the Expansion Draft came when the club shipped Jalil Anibaba, the fifth overall selection, to Sporting Kansas City in exchange for Aurelien Collin.

Collin brings vast experience to the Orlando City back line, making the 28- year-old’s arrival an important one.

Tyler Turner and Harrison Heath remain on the roster from the club’s transition from USL Pro, adding a bit of heritage to the overall plan.

KEY PLAYERS: Aurelien Collin (D), Bryan Rochez (F), Kaka (M), Amobi Okugo (M), Donovan Ricketts (GK), Brek Shea (M).

OUTLOOK: Expansion clubs typically struggle in the early going of their MLS careers, but Orlando’s wheeling-and-dealing could buck that trend. So much of the club’s success in 2015 depends on its ability to adapt to the rigorous travel demands, but there is no reason to think that Adrian Heath’s men can’t conjure a postseason berth in their first MLS campaign.


►  Timbers, RSL play to draw at Providence Park

Real Salt Lake and the Portland Timbers opened their 2015 campaigns with an entertaining scoreless draw on Saturday at Providence Park.

Portland came into the season missing some important pieces as Argentine playmaker Diego Valeri is out after suffering a torn ACL last season, while captain Will Johnson will miss a significant length of time with a broken leg.

For Real Salt Lake 2015 begins with some changes in the back line as Jamison Olave returns following a stint with the New York Red Bulls, while fellow defender Nat Borchers left for Portland.

It was a tight affair from the outset on the turf of Providence Park, but the home side had the better of the play during the opening 45 minutes. The first half featured more than 20 fouls between the sides and three cautions.

The Timbers came out with more energy in the second half and created a great chance in the 53rd minute when a corner kick fell to the feet of Rodney Wallace, who ripped one on frame from close range, but RSL goalkeeper was there to make an excellent point-blank save.

Timbers head coach Caleb Porter sent diminutive forward Max Urruti on as a substitute in the 82nd minute looking for an offensive spark and a late winning goal.

The fourth official’s board showed four minutes of added time, but neither club could find a winning goal as the sides were forced to settle for a share of the spoils on opening night.


►  Orlando draws NYCFC at Citrus Bowl

Orlando City SC and New York City FC combined to produce a dramatic start to life in MLS as the two expansion sides played to a 1-1 draw at the Citrus Bowl on Sunday.

The hosts controlled much of the match, but Mix Diskerud struck 14 minutes from time to put New York in front.

It looked as if the visitors would go on to collect all three points, but Kaka’s deflected free kick found the back of the net in the second minute of stoppage time to help Orlando claim a share of the spoils.

Aurelien Collin’s 83rd-minute red card and a trio of cautions for simulation made the point all the more gratifying for Orlando City, which will aim to build upon the draw in its clash with the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium on Friday.

New York will attempt to rebound from the let-off in time for its home opener against the New England Revolution at Yankee Stadium on Sunday.

The match was brought to a halt in the 14th minute when a foul by Seb Hines forced NYCFC goalkeeper Josh Saunders into a nasty collision with the post.

Saunders remained in the match, though, and produced a fine save to keep Orlando off the board in the 38th minute. A well-worked passing sequence culminated with Kevin Molino laying a square pass into the path of Kaka, who uncorked a powerful shot from outside the box, but Saunders was equal to the task, parrying the attempt to safety.

Orlando continued to apply pressure after the halftime interval, calling Saunders into further action just three minutes after the restart when Molino’s right-footed shot was heading into the bottom corner only to be brushed aside at the last moment.

The hosts came close once again at the hour mark following Jeb Brovsky’s foul on Cristian Higuita at the corner of the penalty area. The ensuing free kick resulted in a powerful shot from Carlos Rivas that skimmed just wide of the near post.

New York settled into the match and eventually grabbed the lone goal in the 76th minute. Following a short corner, David Villa played a square pass to Diskerud and the United States international responded with a splendid right- footed curler that nestled just inside the far post.

The hosts almost provided an immediate response when Higuita went down in the box under a sliding challenge from Brovsky, but the 21-year-old Colombian was issued a yellow card for simulation, Orlando’s third caution for diving in the match.

Things went further south for the home side in the 83rd minute when Collin was issued a straight red card for a dangerous challenge on Villa.

It could have been the nail in Orlando’s coffin, but Kaka received a bit of fortune to rescue the home side at the death. The Brazilian lined up a free kick at the edge of the penalty area, but his attempt took a massive deflection off of Brovsky to fly past Saunders and grant a point for both sides.


►  RBNY claims a draw at SKC

Red Bull New York marked the beginning of the Jesse Marsch era with a point as the club played to a 1-1 draw at Sporting Kansas City on Sunday.

Marsch, who replaced Mike Petke as Red Bulls head coach during the offseason, saw his side fall behind at Sporting Park, but Lloyd Sam pulled back an instant equalizer to grant his side a share of the spoils.

After a scoreless opening period in which the two sides traded a handful of half-chances, the match sprung to life in the 50th minute with Sporting breaking the deadlock.

Benny Feilhaber found space on the right flank and took advantage of Damien Perrinelle’s poor positioning, sending a dangerous cross into the box that Ike Opara nodded home with authority.

Sporting’s lead, however, lasted just four minutes as Sam drifted into the middle of the park before cutting the ball onto his right foot and curling a splendid equalizer just inside the post.

Things went further south for the hosts in the 70th minute when Matt Besler was sent off for claiming a second caution, reducing Sporting to 10 men.

Dom Dwyer spurned two glorious chances to nick a winner for Sporting in the closing stages. He arrived in the box late two minutes from time to poke Feilhaber’s cross just wide of the goal, and he failed to convert after wriggling free of Perrinelle in stoppage time as Luis Robles stoned the Sporting striker from close range.

It proved to be the final moment of action as referee Baldomero Toldeo called for time, leaving both sides to settle for a point.


►  Dempsey leads Seattle over New England

Seattle Sounders FC made a flying start to the 2015 campaign by cruising to a 3-0 victory over the New England Revolution at CenturyLink Field on Sunday.

Clint Dempsey was the star of the show, scoring two goals and adding an assist to get Seattle off the mark in stunning fashion in its quest for MLS Cup glory.

The Sounders took a deserved lead in the 25th minute after Dempsey was tripped in the box by Juan Agudelo, allowing the United States international to convert from the ensuing spot attempt.

Obafemi Martins then got in on the act four minutes before halftime by nodding home a superb delivery from Sounders newcomer Tyrone Mears on the right flank.

Seattle added a third in the 67th minute from a magnificent passing sequence that was capped off by Dempsey.

Marco Pappa threaded the needle to release Martins on goal, and Dempsey was arriving after the Nigerian striker drew Bobby Shuttleworth off his line to take the square pass and tuck the ball into the unguarded net.

That goal completed the comprehensive victory for the Sounders, who will attempt to keep rolling on Saturday when they welcome the San Jose Earthquakes to CenturyLink.

New England will hope to bounce back on Sunday when the club heads to Yankee Stadium to take on New York City FC.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Chiefs add S Branch

The Kansas City Chiefs have signed safety Tyvon Branch.

Terms of the deal for the former Oakland Raider were not disclosed.

Branch was released by the Raiders last week. He was slated to earn $5.5 million in 2015 with Oakland.

“We are excited we were able to reach a deal with Tyvon and bring him to Kansas City,“ said Chiefs general manager John Dorsey in a statement Tuesday. “He is a physical player who we feel can help our defense. We’re looking forward to having him.“

The 28-year-old veteran spent his first seven seasons with the Raiders and has appeared in 75 games with 67 starts. However, he was unable to stay on the field the past two seasons, missing 13 games with a broken foot in 2014 and 14 games the previous year with a broken leg.

Branch registered more than 100 tackles in three consecutive seasons from 2009-11 and overall has 461 tackles with eight sacks and four interceptions.


►  Panthers keep DT Edwards

The Carolina Panthers have re-signed defensive tackle Dwan Edwards to a two-year contract.

Financial terms for the 11-year veteran were not disclosed.

Edwards joined the Panthers in 2012 as a free agent and has compiled 13 sacks in 41 games with the club. He totaled 39 tackles with four sacks and one interception in 16 games last season.

“I wanted to finish what we started,“ said Edwards in a statement Tuesday. “I got here three years ago and the defense has been improving, we’ve made a couple playoff appearances and I want to see it through.“

Edwards has also played for Baltimore (2004-09) and Buffalo (2009-11) during his career. He has 343 tackles with 18 1/2 sacks, three interceptions, three forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries in 124 NFL games.


►  Niners’ Willis decides to call it a career

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis made it official Tuesday and has announced his retirement.

Willis spent each of his eight seasons with San Francisco and was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection. He joined fellow linebackers Lawrence Taylor and Derrick Thomas as the only defensive players since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to be selected to the Pro Bowl in each of their first seven seasons.

The 30-year-old veteran played just six games last season because of a toe injury that eventually required surgery. He registered 34 tackles with an interception.

“Patrick epitomizes everything you could ever want in a San Francisco 49er,“ said 49ers CEO Jed York in a statement Tuesday. “What he brought to this team goes much further than his athletic abilities. His leadership and infectious love for the game helped propel this team. I consider myself very lucky to have grown up around some of the greatest players in the history of this franchise, and Patrick has certainly secured his place among that elite group of men. As a member of our family, Patrick holds a special place in our hearts, and we look forward to supporting him as he moves on from his playing career.“

Willis was a first-round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft and recorded more than 100 tackles in six of his first seven seasons. The Ole Miss product also had 20 1/2 sacks with eight interceptions, starting each of the 112 games he played for the franchise.


►  Bengals make offer to RFA Lamur

The Cincinnati Bengals extended a tender offer to restricted free agent linebacker Emmanuel Lamur prior to Tuesday’s deadline to do so.

ESPN.com reported that Lamur received a second-round tender, which would pay the 2014 starter a $2.356 million salary next season if he accepts. Lamur is still eligible to negotiate with other teams, with the Bengals receiving a second-round draft pick as compensation if he signs elsewhere.

Lamur ranked third among Cincinnati players with 90 tackles while starting 13- of-14 games last season. The 25-year-old added a pair of interceptions and seven passes defensed.

Signed by the Bengals as an undrafted free agent in 2012, Lamur played in nine games as rookie before missing all of the 2013 season with a shoulder injury.

Cincinnati also retained cornerback Chris Lewis-Harris, an exclusive rights free agent who has appeared in 10 games with the team over the past two seasons.


►  Cardinals sign LB Woodley

The Arizona Cardinals have signed linebacker Lamarr Woodley to a one-year contract.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Woodley spent the 2014 season in Oakland after playing his first seven years with Pittsburgh. He helped the Steelers to a pair of Super Bowls.

The Michigan product appeared in just six games for the Raiders last season before going on injured reserve with a biceps problem in October.

Woodley, a Pro Bowl pick in 2009, has 367 career tackles with 57 sacks, nine forced fumbles, nine fumble recoveries and five interceptions in 100 career games. He also has 36 tackles with 11 sacks in eight postseason games.


►  Broncos keep LB Steven Johnson

The Denver Broncos have agreed to terms with linebacker Steven Johnson on a one-year contract.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Johnson has appeared in 41 games, starting seven, in his first three NFL seasons. He signed with Denver as a college free agent in 2012.

The Kansas product made seven starts at middle linebacker last season and appeared in seven other games. He collected 32 tackles to go along with 10 special teams stops.

Johnson has a team-best 27 special teams tackles since his rookie year.

The Gilmer Free Press


References
ABC - American Broadcasting Company
CBS - Columbia Broadcast System
FOX - Fox Entertainment Group
NBC - National Broadcasting Company
JIP - Joined in Progress
DSS - DIRECTV
TSN - Sports Network (Canada)
SNET/SN - Rogers SportsNet (Canada)
RDS - Reseau des sports
MSG - Madison Square Garden Network
TNT - Turner Network Television
TBS - Turner Broadcasting System
SNY - SportsNet New York
CBSSN - CBS - College Sports Network
CSN - Comcast SportsNet
TCN - The Comcast Network
NBCSN - NBC Sports Network
NESN - New England Sports Network
MASN - Mid-Atlantic Sports Network
ROOT - Root Sports (Pittsburgh, Northwest, Rocky Mountain)
CST - Cox Sports Television
FCS - FOX College Sports
FS - FOX Sports Regional
RSN - Regional Sports Networks
CPTV - Connecticut Public Broadcasting
TVG - Horse Racing Channel
FS1 - FOX Sports 1
TWC - Time Warner Cable Sports Channel
* - If Necessary


WEDNESDAY, MARCH 11, 2015
Major League Baseball - Spring Training
Boston vs. NY Yankees, 1:05 PM - MLB Network, YES
Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia, 1:05 PM - TCN-Philadelphia
Detroit vs. Washington, 1:05 PM - MASN
Los Angeles vs. Chicago Cubs, 4:05 PM - MLB Network, SportsNet LA
National Basketball Association
Chicago at Philadelphia, 7:00 PM - CSN-Chicago, Philadelphia, DSS
Sacramento at Charlotte, 7:00 PM - CSN-California, SportSouth, DSS
Memphis at Boston, 7:30 PM - SportSouth, CSN-New England, DSS
Brooklyn at Miami, 7:30 PM - YES, SunSports, DSS
Orlando at Milwaukee, 8:00 PM - FS-Florida, Wisconsin, DSS
LA Clippers at Oklahoma City, 8:00 PM - FS-Prime Ticket, Oklahoma, ESPN
Atlanta at Denver, 9:00 PM - SportSouth, Altitude, DSS
Minnesota at Phoenix, 10:00 PM - FS-North, Arizona, DSS
Detroit at Golden State, 10:30 PM - FS-Detroit, CSN-Bay, DSS
Houston at Portland, 10:30 PM - ROOT-Southwest, KGW, ESPN
National Hockey League
Buffalo at Toronto, 7:00 PM - MSG-Buffalo, SNET, DSS
NY Rangers at Washington, 8:00 PM - NBCSN
Anaheim at Calgary, 9:30 PM - FS-West, SNET-West, DSS
College Basketball
Florida State vs. Clemson, 12:00 PM - ACC Network, ESPN
FIU vs. UTSA, 1:00 PM - American Sports Network
ACC Tournament, 2:00 PM - ACC Network, ESPN
Air Force vs. New Mexico, 3:00 PM - Mountain West Network
Washington State vs. California, 3:10 PM - Pac-12 Network
Charlotte vs. Middle Tennessee, 3:30 PM - American Sports Network
Penn State vs. Nebraska, 4:30 PM - ESPN 2
Nevada at UNLV, 5:30 PM - Mountain West Network
USC vs. Arizona State, 5:40 PM - Pac-12 Network
SE Louisiana vs. McNeese State, 6:00 PM - Southland Digital Network
George Mason vs. Fordham, 6:30 PM - A-10 Network, SNY
TCU vs. Kansas State, 7:00 PM - ESPN U
Rutgers vs. Minnesota, 7:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Auburn vs. Miss State, 7:00 PM - SEC Network
Pittsburgh vs. NC State, 7:00 PM - ACC Network, ESPN 2
Marquette vs. Seton Hall, 7:00 PM - FS1
Marshall vs. Western Kentucky, 7:00 PM - American Sports Network
American U at Lafayette, 7:30 PM - CBSSN
New Orleans vs. Nicholls, 8:30 PM - Southland Digital Network
Saint Louis vs. Duquesne, 9:00 PM - A-10 Network, SNY
ACC Tournament, 9:00 PM - ACC Network, ESPN 2
Texas Tech vs. Texas, 9:00 PM - ESPN U
Colorado vs. Oregon State, 9:10 PM - Pac-12 Network
Creighton vs. DePaul, 9:30 PM - FS1
Rice vs. North Texas, 9:30 PM - American Sports Network
Missouri vs. South Carolina, 9:30 PM - SEC Network
Washington vs. Stanford, 11:40 PM - Pac-12 Network
Women’s College Basketball
UTEP vs. UAB, 12:00 PM - American Sports Network
Georgia State vs. Arkansas-Little Rock, 12:30 PM - ESPN3.com
FAU vs. Louisiana Tech, 2:30 PM - American Sports Network
UT Arlington vs. Texas State, 3:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Appalachian State vs. Arkansas State, 6:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Marshall vs. Charlotte, 6:00 PM - American Sports Network
Jacksonville at Florida Gulf Coast, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
St. Francis (NY) at Central Connecticut State, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Robert Morris at Bryant, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Northern Kentucky at Stetson, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Detroit at Youngstown State, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Illinois-Chicago at Cleveland State, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Oakland at Wright State, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Horizon League Tournament, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com
UL Lafayette vs. Troy, 8:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Rice vs. Old Dominion, 8:30 PM - American Sports Network
Big West Tournament, 9:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Mountain West Tournament, 9:00 PM - Mountain West Network
Mountain West Tournament, 11:30 PM - Mountain West Network
Big West Tournament, 11:30 PM - ESPN3.com
International Soccer
Women’s Algarve Cup, 1:00 PM - FS1
UEFA Champions League, 3:30 PM - FS1

Sports News   150310

The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  High school girls basketball state tournament schedule

The girls state basketball tournament is set to get underway on Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at the Charleston Civic Center and run through Saturday, March 14, 2015.

WEDNESDAY

9:30 AM — Class A No. 3 Tucker County vs. No. 6 St. Marys

11:15 AM — Class AAA No. 2 Parkersburg South vs. No. 7 Martinsburg

1:00 PM — Class A No. 2 Wheeling Central vs. No. 7 Fayetteville

5:30 PM — Class A No. 1 St. Joseph Central vs. No. 8 Tug Valley

7:15 PM — Class AAA No. 1 Morgantown vs. No. 8 Buckhannon-Upshur

9:00 PM — Class A No. 4 Pocahontas County vs. No. 5 Charleston Catholic

THURSDAY

9:30 AM — Class AA No. 3 North Marion vs. No. 6 Lincoln

11:15 AM — Class AAA No. 4 Huntington vs. No. 5 Spring Valley

1:00 PM — Class AA No. 2 Fairmont Senior vs. No. 7 Bridgeport

5:30 PM — Class AA No. 1 Wyoming East vs. No. 8 Bluefield

7:15 PM — Class AAA No. 3 South Charleston vs. No. 6 Greenbrier East

9:00 PM — Class AA No. 4 Sissonville vs. No. 5 Clay County

FRIDAY

9:30 AM — Tucker County/St. Marys winner vs. Wheeling Central/Fayetteville winner

11:15 AM — North Marion/Lincoln winner vs. Fairmont Senior/Bridgeport winner

1:00 PM — St. Joseph Central/Tug Valley winner vs. Pocahontas County/Charleston Catholic winner

5:30 PM — Morgantown/Buckhannon-Upshur winner vs. Huntington/Spring Valley winner

7:15 PM — Wyoming East/Bluefield winner vs. Sissonville/Clay County winner

9:00 PM — South Charleston/Greenbrier East winner vs. Parkersburg South/Martinsburg winner

SATURDAY

12:00 PM — Class A championship

2:30 PM — Class AA championship

7:15 PM — Class AAA championship


►  High school Boys basketball Regional schedule

CLASS AAA — TUESDAY, MARCH 10, 2015

REGION 1

Preston at Parkersburg South

Parkersburg at Morgantown

REGION 2

Lewis County at Martinsburg

Musselman at Hampshire

REGION 3

Greenbrier East at Capital

George Washington at Woodrow Wilson

REGION 4

Spring Valley at Hurricane

St. Albans at Huntington

 

CLASS AA — WEDNESDAY, MARCH 11, 2015

REGION 1

Webster County at Fairmont Senior

Oak Glen at Ravenswood

REGION 2

Robert C. Byrd at Frankfort

Keyser at Bridgeport

REGION 3

PikeView at Westside

Wyoming East at Bluefield

REGION 4

Wayne at Poca

Sissonville at Mingo Central

 

CLASS A — THURSDAY, MARCH 12, 2015

REGION 1

St. Marys at Magnolia

Wheeling Central at Paden City

REGION 2

Pocahontas County at Notre Dame

Tucker County at Moorefield

REGION 3

Greater Beckley Christian at Valley (Fayette)

Richwood at Tug Valley

REGION 4

Charleston Catholic at Gilmer County

Williamstown at St. Joseph Central



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Three MEC Squads Earn NCAA Tournament Bids

Top-seeded West Liberty will host the NCAA Atlantic Regional Men’s Basketball Tournament, and Fairmont State and Glenville State each earned at-large berths as well as the 64-team field was announced on Sunday night.

West Liberty (26-3) will take on No. 8 Livingstone (19-9) at the ASRC, No. 4 Fairmont State will play No. 5 Mercyhurst, and No. 7 Glenville State will play IUP.

Game times and more information about the tournament will be announced on Monday by the host institution. Below is the complete schedule for the regional tournament.


NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional First-Round Games

Saturday, March 14, 2014 - West Liberty’s Academic Sports and Recreation Complex

No. 3 Indiana (PA) (26-6) vs. No. 6 Glenville State (22-10) – TBA

No. 2 Gannon (23-8) vs. No. 7 Slippery Rock (20-10) – TBA

No. 1 West Liberty (26-3) vs. No. 8 Livingstone (19-9) – TBA

No. 4 Fairmont State (21-10) vs. No. 5 Mercyhurst (20-8) - TBA


►  West Liberty, Shepherd Earn NCAA Tournament Bids

West Liberty and Shepherd earned at-large berths into the 2015 NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament announced on Sunday night.

The Hilltoppers (23-8), fresh off a 76-55 victory over Notre Dame in Sunday’s MEC Tournament championship game, is the No. 5 seed in this week’s NCAA Division II Atlantic Region tournament. The MEC regular-season and tournament champions will take on No. 4 seed West Chester, PA. (24-5) in one of four quarterfinal matchups on Friday.

Shepherd (21-9), which was upset by Notre Dame in the MEC Tournament semifinals, earned the No. 7 seed and will tip off against Indiana, PA. (25-3) on Friday.

The Atlantic Regional Tournament will be played at top-seeded California (PA.).



The Gilmer Free Press

►  2015 Big 12 Conference Tournament Preview

The most competitive season in Big 12 history culminates with the annual conference tournament, which is set to take place at the Sprint Center in Kansas City from Wednesday, March 11 through Saturday, March 14.

The winner receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

First-round action features a pair of bouts pitting the four lowest seeds against each other, starting with No. 9 TCU (17-14, 4-14) battling No. 8 Kansas State (15-16, 8-10), followed by No. 10 Texas Tech (13-18, 3-15) clashing with No. 7 Texas (19-12, 8-10).

The quarterfinals are slated for Thursday, with the first game being a showdown between No. 4 Baylor (23-8, 11-7) and No. 5 West Virginia (23-8, 11.7). Third-seeded Oklahoma (21-9, 12-6) will face sixth-seeded Oklahoma State (18-12, 8-10), while the top two seeds, No. 1 Kansas (24-7, 13-5) will face the winner of the TCU/Kansas State contest, and No. 2 Iowa State (22-8, 12-6) will square off with the victor in the Texas Tech/Texas matchup.

TCU limps into the postseason having lost three in a row and four of its last five overall, and the team is seeking its first win in the Big 12 Tournament after going one-and-done in each of its first two years in the league.

Kansas State owns an 11-18 record in this event, having never won the title, although it has reached the finals in two of the last five years, losing both times to rival Kansas. With regard to this season, the Wildcats have won only three of their last 11 games, although one of those victories came against the Jayhawks just a couple of weeks ago.

Texas Tech has had a horrific season, at least with respect to its effort against its Big 12 brethren. The Red Raiders have lost seven of their last eight games, and have posted just three victories since the start of the new year. Texas Tech is 13-18 all-time in the conference tourney, and has just one championship game appearance, that resulting in a narrow loss to Oklahoma State in 2005.

Texas had spent some time in the national rankings this season, but the team was inconsistent at best in Big 12 play. The Longhorns, who boast having the Big 12 Freshman of the Year in Myles Turner (10.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.8 bpg), enter this tournament on a modest two-game win streak, that coming on the heels of a four-game slide. Texas is 23-18 all-time in this event, and it too has never hoisted the championship trophy despite reaching the title tilt six times, including three straight from 2006-08.

Baylor is seeking redemption after last year’s loss to Iowa State in the tournament finals, which marked its second championship game appearance in the last three years, and its third in the last six overall. The Bears, who are fortunate to have the Big 12’s Sixth Man of the Year on the roster in Taurean Prince (14.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg), have never won the crown, and they own a 14-17 record in the event all-time. They enter the postseason having won five of their last six games.

Like TCU, which joined the conference the same year as West Virginia, the Mountaineers are also seeking their first win in the tournament. The team, which is led by Big 12 Coach of the Year Bob Huggins, claimed a win over Oklahoma State in last Saturday’s regular-season finale, putting the brakes on a brief two-game skid.

Oklahoma State is hoping to catch lightning in a bottle, as the team has lost five of its last six games. The Cowboys won back-to-back Big 12 Tournament titles in 2004 and 2005, and they own a 23-16 record in the event all-time.

Oklahoma enters the postseason having won four of its last five games, and the team features a pair of Big 12 award winners in Newcomer of the Year TaShawn Thomas (11.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.4 bpg), and Player of the Year Buddy Hield (17.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg). The Sooners are 20-15 all-time in this event, and they have the second-most Big 12 Tournament titles of any team with three, winning them all in succession from 2001-03.

Iowa State is the defending Big 12 Tournament champion, defeating Baylor in a 74-65 final last year. The Cyclones have a total of two titles to their credit, and they are 11-16 all-time in the event. ISU, which can claim having the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year on the roster in Jameel McKay (11.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 2.4 bpg), has won two straight games entering the postseason.

Kansas earned its 11th consecutive Big 12 regular-season title, and its 15th in 19 years, but the team has proven to be mortal of late by splitting its last four games. With nine tournament crowns to their credit, the Jayhawks have won three times as many titles as any team in the league, and they own a 36-9 record in the event. KU did not play in the championship game last year, but has done so a total of 10 times.

Kansas is once again the team to beat, although there are certainly others who could challenge. Iowa State and Oklahoma are probably the most viable options, but Bill Self will almost assuredly have his Jayhawks primed and ready for a nice, long run through the month of March.



<The Gilmer Free Press

►  Top-25 College Men’s Basketball Game Results

(Monday, March 09)


Final Score: (7) Gonzaga 79, Pepperdine 61

Byron Wesley had 25 points to lead No. 7 Gonzaga in a 79-61 victory over Pepperdine in the semifinals of the West Coast Conference Tournament. Kyle Wiltjer had 17 points and nine rebounds and Przemek Karnowski added 13 points and six boards for the Bulldogs (31-2), who advanced to their 18th straight WCC finals appearance. Gonzaga, which has won this tournament the past two years, will play BYU, which defeated Portland in the other semifinal game, in a rematch of last year’s final on Tuesday. Stacy Davis had 15 points and seven rebounds and Jeremy Major added 12 points for the Waves (18-13), who had defeated San Diego on Saturday to advance to the finals.


►  College Basketball Rankings

Associated Press Top 25
1. Kentucky
2. Duke
3. Virginia
4. Villanova
5. Arizona
6. Wisconsin
7. Gonzaga
8. Maryland
9. Kansas
10. Northern Iowa
11. Notre Dame
12. Wichita State
13. Iowa State
14. Louisville
15. Oklahoma
16. Baylor
17. Utah
18. West Virginia
19. North Carolina
20. SMU
21. Arkansas
22. Butler
23. Georgetown
24. Davidson
25. Boise State


Coaches Poll
1. Kentucky
2. Duke
3. Villanova
4. Virginia
5. Wisconsin
6. Arizona
7. Gonzaga
8. Maryland
9. Notre Dame
10. Kansas
11. Northern Iowa
12. Wichita State
13. Louisville
14. Oklahoma
15. Iowa State
16. Baylor
17. Utah
18. West Virginia
19. North Carolina
20. Arkansas
21. SMU
22. Butler
23. Georgetown
24. Davidson
25. San Diego State


Top 25 (and one)
1 Kentucky
2 Duke
3 Virginia
4 Villanova
5 Wisconsin
6 Arizona
7 Gonzaga
8 Kansas
9 Maryland
10 Northern Iowa
11 Notre Dame
12 Baylor
13 Iowa State
14 West Virginia
15 Oklahoma
16 Louisville
17 Georgetown
18 Butler
19 Wichita State
20 North Carolina
21 Providence
22 Utah
23 Arkansas
24 SMU
25 St. John’s
26 Davidson



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NBA Game Results

(Monday, March 09)


Final Score: Washington 95, Charlotte 69

Marcin Gortat scored 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting and also pulled down seven rebounds in the Washington Wizards’ 95-69 rout of the Charlotte Hornets on Monday. John Wall added 15 points, nine assists and three steals for the Wizards, who snapped a nine-game road losing streak. Bradley Beal and Kevin Seraphin tallied 14 and 12 points, respectively. Mo Williams ended with 19 points on just 6-of-18 shooting for the Hornets, who had a five-game winning streak snapped. Al Jefferson and Lance Stephenson had 14 and 12 points, respectively. Charlotte forward Cody Zeller played less than seven minutes before leaving with a right shoulder sprain.


Final Score: Atlanta 130, Sacramento 105

Kyle Korver hit six of Atlanta’s franchise record 20 3-pointers, and the Hawks picked up their 50th win of the season with a 130-105 rout of the Sacramento Kings on Monday. Korver finished with 20 points for the East-leading Hawks, who notched their 13th straight win over the Kings. DeMarre Carroll netted 20 points, all in the first half, while Al Horford and Jeff Teague chipped in 18 points apiece for an Atlanta team that totaled 42 assists, the most in an NBA game this season. Teague led the way with 13 assists. Rudy Gay paced Sacramento with 23 points, followed by Ray McCallum’s 15. DeMarcus Cousins had 12 points and 14 rebounds for the Kings, who have lost four straight after opening their season-high eight-game trek with a win at New York.


Final Score: Boston 100, Miami 90

Isaiah Thomas scored 25 points and the Boston Celtics pulled away in the second half for a 100-90 win over the Miami Heat on Monday. Brandon Bass added 14 points, Gigi Datome scored 13 and Kelly Olynyk had 10 for the Celtics, who went 2-1 on a three-game road trip, also winning in New Orleans before losing to Orlando on Sunday. Dwyane Wade poured in a game-high 34 points for the Heat, who had a three-game home winning streak snapped. The banged-up Heat got Luol Deng (thigh) back after a two- game absence—he scored 11—but Goran Dragic missed a second consecutive game with a back injury. Center Hassan Whiteside returned after missing a game with an ankle injury but was ejected late in the third quarter after picking up a Flagrant 2 foul for knocking Olynyk to the floor with a blindside shove near the Heat basket.


Final Score: Memphis 101, Chicago 91

Marc Gasol outscored his brother, getting 23 points on Monday night as the Memphis Grizzlies pulled away down the stretch to beat the Chicago Bulls 101-91. Tony Snell scored 21 points to lead the Bulls, including 11 during a 23-6 run that pulled them out of a 13-point hole in the fourth quarter and gave them an 88-84 lead with around six minutes remaining. But Memphis responded by scoring the next 11 points to pull away for the win. Jeff Green added 19 points and Zach Randolph scored 16 for the Grizzlies, who have won three of their last four. The Southwest Division leaders opened a four-game road trip with a 95-89 loss in New Orleans on Saturday.


Final Score: New Orleans 114, Milwaukee 103

Anthony Davis matched a career-high with 43 points and also had 10 rebounds, six assists and two blocks in the New Orleans Pelicans’ 114-103 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday. Eric Gordon added 16 points for the Pelicans, who have won two in a row. Tyreke Evans contributed 13 points and six assists before leaving late in the third quarter with a left ankle injury. Giannis Antetokounmpo ended with a career-best 29 points, three blocks and three steals for the Bucks, who have dropped seven of nine. Michael Carter-Williams tallied 25 points and seven assists.


Final Score: Denver 106, New York 78

Kenneth Faried picked up 19 points and 11 rebounds as Denver claimed a 106-78 victory over New York at Pepsi Center. Wilson Chandler and Will Barton each contributed 17 points with Ty Lawson adding 14 points and six assists for the Nuggets, who put a two-game losing streak to rest. Alexey Shved totaled 19 points for the Knicks, who have lost four in a row. Langston Galloway had 14 points, four assists and three rebounds in defeat.


Final Score: Golden State 98, Phoenix 80

Stephen Curry made seven 3-pointers en route to 36 points as the Golden State Warriors picked up their 50th win of the season with a 98-80 rout of the Phoenix Suns on Monday. Curry also had six rebounds, five assists and four steals for the Warriors (50-12), who have won four in a row. Klay Thompson added 25 points and Draymond Green tallied 11 points and 10 boards. Eric Bledsoe ended with 19 points for the Suns, who have lost two straight. T.J. Warren scored 11 points and Alex Len contributed 10 points and 11 rebounds. Phoenix guard Brandon Knight recorded 13 points before leaving in the second quarter with a sprained left ankle. He was unable to put any weight on the leg and was helped off the court by the Suns’ training staff.


Final Score: LA Clippers 89, Minnesota 76

J.J. Redick scored 26 points and the Los Angeles Clippers topped the Minnesota Timberwolves 89-76 on Monday. DeAndre Jordan finished with 20 points on 10-of-11 shooting and also pulled down 17 boards for the Clippers, who ended a two-game skid. Matt Barnes and Austin Rivers each netted 13 points in the win. Adreian Payne paced the Timberwolves with 16 points and 15 rebounds, while Nikola Pekovic supplied 12 points and 10 rebounds in defeat.


►  Stretching the Field: Westbrook riding ridiculous run

So who’s the man in Oklahoma City?

Is it still Kevin Durant?

Judging by the way Russell Westbrook has been playing, the Thunder are undergoing a star-studded facelift. However, that could change when Durant returns from a foot problem that has bothered him the entire season.

Until Durant is healthy enough to help Oklahoma City in its postseason push, Westbrook has command of the reins.

Westbrook, fractured face and all, has been dazzling on the court and is making triple-doubles look easy. Hip-hop mogul Ice Cube once rapped about messing around during a pick-up game and recording a triple-double, an effort he claimed to reminisce Hall of Famer Michael Jordan.

Westbrook is no MJ, but his numbers lately resemble His Airness. The speedy point guard has registered five triple-doubles in his last six games and leads the NBA with seven this season. Some NBA players go through an entire career without posting one. With Westbrook, it’s NBA entertainment at its best.

In a 108-104 win over the Toronto Raptors on Sunday, Westbrook played 40 minutes and recorded 30 points, 17 assists and 11 rebounds. Still wearing a protective plastic mask stemming from a facial fracture, Westbrook isn’t too concerned about his recent feat.

“It crosses my mind when we win, which is the most important thing,“ said Westbrook, who leads the NBA with 27.4 points per game. He is averaging 33.1 points, 10.5 assists and 9.6 rebounds in his last 15 games.

During his six-game tear, Westbrook owns 36.8 points, 11 assists and 12.2 rebounds. Since February 4, Westbrook has reached the 40-point mark five times. He recorded four straight triple-doubles from February 24 to March 4 to become the first player since Jordan in 1988-89 to post that many consecutively. Air Jordan set the mark high with seven triple-doubles in a row that season.

Westbrook has 15 career triple-doubles and the Thunder are 13-2 when he pulls off the troika. Oklahoma City was unbeaten during Westbrook’s first 11 triple- doubles and continued to succeed against the Raptors. Westbrook did most of his work against Kyle Lowry, who was the starting point guard for the Eastern Conference All-Star team last month.

Lowry knows Westbrook is playing out of his mind.

“He’s playing unbelievable basketball right now,“ Lowry said. “The man is unbelievable, and he’s pretty much carrying their team right now.“

Westbrook is carrying the Thunder and should be even when Durant returns. KD isn’t right this season and perhaps taking a step back would be best. Let’s make no mistake, Durant is otherworldly when it comes to playing basketball, but Westbrook is taking the torch and sprinting with it.

Talk of taking home an MVP award is fair for Westbrook. Just look at his numbers: 27.4 points, 8.3 assists and 7.1 rebounds. Westbrook, the recipient of the All-Star Game MVP award, will have to box out LeBron James, Stephen Curry, James Harden and Anthony Davis for the Maurice Podoloff Trophy as the best in the league.

Westbrook has more triple-doubles this season than his teammate Durant does for his entire career (6). Durant was named MVP last season.

Oklahoma City is fortunate to have two of the league’s best players on its roster. It is one of just four teams in NBA history to be nine or more games below .500 in the first half of the season, only to move above the mark at the midway point of the campaign.

Westbrook is the reason for the Thunder revival and why they are closing in on a playoff spot when all was lost at the beginning of the season.

While posting triple-doubles doesn’t always translate into success, it’s definitely advantageous. Westbrook is playing with an edge and should keep some numbers in the holster come playoff time.

“Man, he’s just finding guys,“ said Thunder guard Anthony Morrow. “He’s getting in the paint obviously whenever he wants and it’s hard to stop him when he has a full head of speed in attack mode every time. He’s really getting better and better each game at finding guys and reading defenses. He’s doing a great job.“  ~~  Shawn Clarke ~~



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Span has surgery, doubtful for start of season

Washington Nationals center fielder Denard Span will likely miss the start of the season after undergoing surgery on Monday for a core muscle problem.

Span had surgery for a sports hernia in early December, but began feeling pain in his right core muscle a few weeks later. It worsened after playing in a spring training game last week.

“Everything went well with the surgery,“ Span wrote Monday on Twitter.

Nationals manager Matt Williams said Span is expected to rejoin the team later this week to begin the rehab process, which should take between 4-to-6 weeks.

Span is coming off a strong 2014 season, his second with Washington after spending his first five major league campaigns with Minnesota. The 31-year-old veteran hit a team-best .302 and added an NL-best 184 hits with a career-best 31 stolen bases.

Washington exercised its club option on Span for the 2015 season last October.

A career .286 hitter, Span has amassed 32 home runs, 314 RBI, 141 steals and 55 triples over 889 major league games.


►  Mariners sign RHP Correia to minor league deal

The Seattle Mariners signed veteran right- hander Kevin Correia to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training, the team announced Monday.

Correia, 34, was 7-17 with a 5.44 ERA in 32 games last season for the Twins and Dodgers, including 26 starts.

He is 76-95 with a 4.59 ERA in 353 career games for the Giants, Padres, Pirates, Twins and Dodgers, including 216 starts. He was named an All-Star in 2011 while with Pittsburgh.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Monday, March 09)


Final Score: NY Islanders 4, Toronto 3 (OT)

John Tavares scored the winning goal in overtime with just 22 seconds remaining as the New York Islanders rallied for a 4-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday. With time winding down, Tavares skated through the neutral zone then went down the right wing, cut to the front while beating two defenders and snapped the puck in for the victory. Tavares and Tyler Kennedy each posted a goal and an assist while Frans Nielsen and Casey Cizikas also scored for the Islanders, who had lost three of four coming in. Michal Neuvirth stopped 22 shots in the win. James van Riemsdyk had a goal and an assist with David Booth and Peter Holland also giving a goal for the Maple Leafs, who have lost their last three. Jonathan Bernier allowed all four goals on 44 shots in the loss.


Final Score: Detroit 5, Edmonton 2

Jimmy Howard came up with 36 saves and Teemu Pulkkinen recorded the deciding goal midway through the third period, as Detroit claimed a 5-2 decision over Edmonton at Joe Louis Arena. Niklas Kronwall, Riley Sheahan, Justin Abdelkader and Pavel Datsyuk also tallied for the Red Wings, who put an end to a two-game slide and won for the fourth time in six games. Rob Klinkhammer and Nail Yakupov scored for the Oilers, who have dropped five in a row. Ben Scrivens allowed three goals on 24 shots in defeat.


Final Score: Vancouver 2, Anaheim 1

Zack Kassian scored the winning goal with 3:59 to play as the Vancouver Canucks grabbed a 2-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Monday. Bo Horvat scored the other goal while Eddie Lack stopped 29 shots for the Canucks, who have won their last two. Emerson Etem scored the only goal of the game for the Ducks, who have lost their last two. Frederik Andersen allowed both goals on 16 shots in the loss.


Final Score: Nashville 2, Arizona 1 (OT)

James Neal scored the deciding goal 2:45 into overtime as the Nashville Predators ended a six-game losing streak with a 2-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Monday. Paul Gaustad scored during regulation and Pekka Rinne made 27 saves for the Predators, who won for the first time since Feb. 24. Kyle Chipchura lit the lamp and Louis Domingue stopped 35-of-37 shots in his second NHL start for the Coyotes, who have lost 12 of their last 13 games. In the extra session, rookie defenseman Seth Jones kept the puck in at the blue line and fired the puck off a give-and-go with Cody Franson. Domingue made the initial save, but Neal wristed home the rebound for the win.


Final Score: San Jose 2, Pittsburgh 1 (SO)

Tommy Wingels netted the winner in the eighth round of the shootout, and San Jose escaped with a 2-1 victory over Pittsburgh on Monday. Both sides registered successful shots in the third round, then came up empty through the seventh. Wingels opened the final round with a backhander against Marc-Andre Fleury, then Steve Downie failed to solve Antti Niemi to end the contest. Matt Nieto tallied in regulation for the Sharks, who have won three of their last four. Niemi finished with 39 stops. Sidney Crosby provided the lone marker for the Penguins, who were denied a clean California sweep but still finished a four-game road trip at 2-1-1. Fleury halted 29 shots.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Delbonis sends Argentines into Davis Cup quarters

Federico Delbonis won a fifth and deciding rubber on Monday to propel host Argentina past its South American neighbor Brazil, 3-2, and into the 2015 Davis Cup quarterfinals.

The world No. 83 Delbonis, who was inserted into the Argentine lineup on Sunday, defeated 85th-ranked Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 in just under three hours on the red clay at Tecnopolis. Delbonis, who replaced Carlos Berlocq for the second reverse singles match, piled up six service breaks against Bellucci, compared to three for his fellow left-handed counterpart.

The match started on Sunday, but was suspended due to darkness after Delbonis won the first set, this after Leonardo Mayer evened up the best-of-five tie with an epic record-setting five-set victory over the visitors’ Joao Souza. Following a 28-game fifth set, Mayer and Souza had battled for a Davis Cup- record 6 hours, 43 minutes. The previous record-long match came in 1982 when John McEnroe outlasted fellow tennis legend Mats Wilander in 6 hours, 22 minutes in a United States-Sweden quarterfinal in St. Louis.

The longest-ever ATP-level match occurred in 2010 when American John Isner and Frenchman Nicolas Mahut battled for more than 11 hours over a three-day span at Wimbledon.

The four-time Davis Cup runner-up Argentines are now 6-2 all-time against the Brazilians, who haven’t reached the quarterfinals since 2001.

Argentina is rewarded with a quarterfinal against Novak Djokovic-led Serbia in July.


►  Bacsinszky beats Garcia again to claim Monterrey crown

Timea Bacsinszky beat Caroline Garcia for the second week in a row to win another title.

This time, the native of Switzerland captured the Monterrey Open with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 triumph on Sunday.

Bacsinszky also won last week’s title in Acapulco with a straight-set win over Garcia.

After Garcia won the first set on Sunday, Bacsinszky jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the second set before a four-hour rain delay. When play resumed, so did Bacsinszky’s momentum.

Bacsinszky, seeded fourth this week, earned her third career title and improved to 3-2 all-time in finals, including 2-1 this year. In addition to last week’s victory, she also reached the title match at the season-opener in Shenzhen and lost to Simona Halep.

“I’m just really happy to play so well at the beginning of the year,“ said Bacsinszky, who was a third-round loser at the Australian Open. “I’m going to keep trying to push my limits in the next tournament I’m playing. I hope to keep improving all parts of my game, doesn’t matter whether I’m winning or losing.“

The third-seeded Garcia fell to 1-2 in finals, winning her lone career title last year in Bogota.

Bacsinszky earned $111,389 with her victory on Sunday.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Runners can register now for inaugural Morgantown marathon

Organizers are hoping an inaugural marathon in Monongalia County will turn into a destination event drawing in at least 5,000 visitors a year.

Registration, which opened Monday, continues for four races that will be part of Morgantown Marathon Weekend set for September 18 – 20.

Jamie Summerlin, a guest on Morgantown-AM, said logistic planning has been underway for at least a year for an inaugural mile run, the Mountain Momma 8-k, a half marathon and a marathon.

“We’ve got people from all over the country.  I’ve got folks from all 50 states and outside of our borders in South America, Australia, Brazil and Puerto Rico,” said Summerlin.  “People are excited about coming in to run the inaugural event.”

The races are being touted as a tour of Morgantown.

“We run through all seven wards of the city on the course.  We aren’t advertising it as one of the ten fastest courses in America, but I’ve run courses that are a heck of a lot tougher,” said Summerlin. “It’s going to be a great experience for everybody.”

According to Summerlin, the announcement for registration is early enough to complete with other destinations as runners plan their marathon picks many months ahead.

As a first year event, Summerlin said he hopes to have 2500 people participate.

But, he has lofty goals after that.

“We’d love to see it get from 5,000 to 7,500 (people) in the next five years.  That’s about the maximum Morgantown could handle logistically for a race,” Summerlin explained.

Organizers say the associated health expo at Mylan Park will promote the businesses and services committed to overall wellness.

The timing, Summerlin said, will highlight the best of the state.

“This is going to be an opportunity for us to showcase what we have here and help get rid of some of those stereotypes people have about West Virginia.  They can get in here in September and see how absolutely gorgeous it is,” Summerlin said.

Proceeds support Operations Welcome Home, a program putting local veterans back to work full time.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Shared Belief to stay in country after Big ‘Cap win

Shared Belief will follow his commanding Santa Anita Handicap victory this past Saturday with more starts in the United States and not overseas.

Hall of Fame trainer and co-owner Jerry Hollendorfer put to rest any notion that his 4-year-old gelding will travel to the Persian Gulf for the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 28.

“No, we’re not going to Dubai,“ Hollendorfer said. “There are lots of races in this country to run in with plenty big enough purses. We just don’t want to make a trip over there.“

Shared Belief, ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, rolled to a 4 1/4- length victory in the 1 1/4-mile, $1 million Big ‘Cap. The 4-year-old gelding came out of the race in good shape. It was Smith’s third straight win in the race after winning with Game On Dude the previous two years.

“He came out of the race very good. We’re very grateful to have a good horse like him,“ Hollendorfer said.

The Big ‘Cap win was the 10th in 11 career starts for 2013’s champion 2-year- old and boosted his earnings to $2,932,200. Hollendorfer said Sunday in a radio interview that the 1 1/8-mile Oaklawn Handicap on April 11 would likely be next for his stable superstar.

Shared Belief defeated 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome in the San Antonio on February 07 as both horses began their 2015 campaigns. “Chrome” skipped the Big ‘Cap to prepare for the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 28.

“He’s a once-in-a-lifetime horse. You won’t see another like him,“ said Hollendorfer’s assistant Dan Ward.


►  El Kabeir wins Gotham to take lead in ‘Road to the Kentucky Derby’

El Kabeir drove to a 2 3/4-length victory in Saturday’s Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct and took over first-place in the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points system.

The Gotham was one of three stakes offering 50 points to the winning horse. The other two stakes were the Tampa Bay Derby and San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita.

El Kabeir now has 75 points and will start next in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 04. The 1 1/8-mile Wood offers 100 points to the winning 3- year-old.

“He’s a tough, strong horse; he’s got a great constitution,“ said El Kabeir’s trainer John Terranova. “We’ve got a tremendous foundation under him now, and I think the winter has toughened him up even more. We’ll see how things go, but he seems to love (racing). Every race he’s gotten stronger.“

Risen Star Stakes winner International Star remains second with 71 points, but is closely followed by San Felipe champ Dortmund who moved into third with 70 points.

“It was a walk in the park for him,“ trainer Bob Baffert said Sunday about Dortmund’s 1 1/4-length victory. The Santa Anita Derby on April 04 is next.

Carpe Diem made his 2015 debut a winning one Saturday in the Tampa Bay Derby and earned 50 points to jump up to fourth-place in the standings with 64.

“We were very pleased with the way he’d been training, and we were delighted with the way he ran,“ trainer Todd Pletcher said about Carpe Diem’s win.

Pletcher said earlier that the Blue Grass Stakes on April 04 at Keeneland would be next for Carpe Diem.

Fountain of Youth winner Itsaknockout, also trained by Pletcher, is fifth with 50 points followed in the top 10 by Upstart (36), War Story (24), Far Right (22), Ami’s Flatter (20) and Prospect Park (20).

On Saturday the Rebel Stakes will go off at Fair Grounds with 50 points available to the winner. At Laurel Park the Private Terms Stakes will take place with no points involved.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Golf Tidbits: Johnson focusing on the game of life

Coming back from his six-month leave of absence, Dustin Johnson’s outlook for 2015 seemed cloudy to the prognosticators, but not to him.

He has played five events and contended in three of them. He missed the cut in his first start at the Farmers Insurance Open and failed to play the weekend at the Honda Classic.

Johnson admitted, “The only week that I really didn’t prepare well would have been last week at the Honda. I just wasn’t prepared for that week. But every other week, I felt like I’ve really prepared very well and played good.“

His other results show that has been the case. Johnson tied for fourth at Pebble Beach, where he has won twice. The following week, he lost in a playoff at the Northern Trust despite one of the best up-and-down birdies you will see anywhere on tour this year.

Johnson wrapped a 68 in the first round and a 69 in the third round around a 1-over 73 in Round 2 at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. He carded another 69 in the final round at Trump National Doral as he toppled fellow big-hitters J.B. Holmes and Bubba Watson.

The win was Johnson’s ninth on the PGA Tour and it stretched his streak to eight straight seasons with at least one win on tour.

Still, the questions linger about his leave of absence. Johnson reiterated on Sunday that he did not fail a drug test as some had reported. He also hasn’t gone into much detail about why he took the leave.

“Because it’s personal and frankly ... it’s not really anybody’s business,“ Johnson said on Sunday.

He will have to get used to those questions for a little while longer. They likely won’t fade until after the Masters, where more international press will be on hand.

That also will be a big week for Johnson. He admitted Sunday he’ll need to work on his short game and his putting before the season’s first major.

If that work yields positive results, Johnson will be among the favorites at Augusta. His game fits the course as he is second on tour in driving distance and he can work the ball both directions.

Length is key at many courses, especially Augusta, where big hitters have won 11 of the last 14 Masters titles.

Johnson’s best finish at the Masters was a tie for 13th in 2013. His struggles there, combined with the added media scrutiny, could lead to another disappointing week.

Those things don’t matter as much to Johnson after his leave.

“It’s hard to describe, but just from the first day he was born, your perspective on life completely changes. Things that were important aren’t important anymore. He’s kind of the only thing that’s really important,“ Johnson said of his newborn son. “It kind of makes life a lot easier I think, just because there’s just one thing that’s kind of all you think about. It definitely simplifies stuff.“

With a clear head, and a body that he toned during his leave, Johnson will be a factor throughout the season. Things outside of his golf game are now in focus, and that could lead to big things for the big hitter.

TOP LPGA PLAYERS BATTLE AGAIN

It seems rather common on the LPGA Tour for the top three players in the world rankings to battle for a title. That happened this past weekend in Singapore, and, as an added bonus, the fourth-ranked woman in the world was right there, too.

Lydia Ko, Inbee Park and Stacy Lewis are the top three players in the rankings. They finished 2-1-3 in the standings at the HSBC Women’s Champions.

All three players were within three strokes of each other through each of the first three rounds. Lewis ended four shots behind Park, who fired a 6-under 66 in the first round and went on to win the title in wire-to-wire fashion.

Looking at their results from 2014, those three players played in the same event 18 times. All three finished inside the top four on the leaderboard twice last year.

At the Swinging Skirts event, Ko won the title, Lewis was second and Park tied for fourth. Later in the year, Park won in Taiwan, while Lewis was second and Ko third.

In the 18 events they played together in 2014, the three combined for eight victories, and in five of those eight wins, at least one of the other two finished inside the top five as well.

By comparison, the top three players in the current men’s world rankings played 12 events together last season - four World Golf Championships, four majors, three FedExCup playoff events and the Players Championship.

Their best combined week was at the Masters, where world No. 2 Bubba Watson was the winner, No. 1 Rory McIlroy tied for eighth and No. 3 Henrik Stenson shared 14th place.

The top players in the women’s game play together more often than the men do, so their battles will be more frequent. The only shame of this battle was that it happened in the middle of the night on the East Coast of the United States.

MINI-TIDBITS

* PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem admitted in a Sunday interview that he whiffed in not getting Ryder Cup points attached to the five fall events that will kick off the 2015-16 wrap-around schedule. Unless someone were to win more than one of those events or have several top-five finishes, it won’t matter. The big names will rarely play those events, and those who do play them will have a long climb up the points standings to try to make the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

* The purses on the PGA Tour continue to grow. With two events this past weekend, the difference in the money was staggering. Bubba Watson finished third behind Dustin Johnson, who earned $1.57 million for the win, at the WGC- Cadillac Championship, yet earned the same amount ($540,000) as Alex Cejka did for winning the opposite event in Puerto Rico. The difference between the last-place finishers was a healthy $36,550.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  ‘15 Season Preview: New-look Crew eye continued success

Columbus Crew SC will be hoping its new brand identity will translate into prominence on the pitch for the 2015 season.

The club opted to switch its name from the “Columbus Crew” to “Columbus Crew SC.“ The logo also received a facelift as the three construction workers made way for a more traditional soccer shield.

But while the changes have been a smash hit among the club’s supporters, Columbus will be out to ensure that it is more than simply window dressing.

In order to take more strides in the right direction, Columbus has opted for continuity by making minimal changes to a squad that finished third in the Eastern Conference last term.

The only notable departures from last season are midfielder Daniel Paladini, whose option was declined, and defender Josh Williams, who was traded to expansion side New York City FC for allocation money.

To compensate, Columbus signed a few notable players.

Herman Grana joins the club on the back of a 12-year career in his native Argentina and should compete for the right-back position.

Chris Klute, meanwhile, is looking like a major coup for Crew SC. The 24-year- old, who joined the club via a trade with the Colorado Rapids, is one of the country’s brightest left-back prospects.

The arrival that overshadowed them all, though, was that of Kei Kamara.

The Sierra Leone international has joined Columbus from English side Middlesbrough, but he brings a wealth of MLS experience to Crew SC. Not only was he drafted by Columbus in 2006, but he has gone on to represent the San Jose Earthquakes, Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City, as well as English club Norwich City on a loan spell in 2013.

Kamara’s constant movement from club to club raises speculation regarding how long he’ll last at Columbus this time around, but at 30 years old, he is a much more seasoned professional. He may prove to be the main striker Columbus has been searching for, which could allow star Designated Player Federico Higuain to utilize his technical ability in a more withdrawn position.

The Columbus midfield seems quite established with Tony Tchani and Wil Trapp likely to start the majority of matches in the center of the park.

Tchani has become a mainstay in the Crew midfield since joining the club from Red Bull New York in 2011, while the 22-year-old Trapp will look to build upon a breakout season in 2014 that saw him make 28 league appearances.

Defender Michael Parkhurst will continue to lead the team as captain, while head coach Gregg Berhalter will enter his second full season in charge with the bar set quite high.

ACQUISITIONS: Hernan Grana (D), Kei Kamara (F), Chris Klute (D), Mohammed Saeid (M), Kristinn Steindorsson (M).

LOSSES: Daniel Paladini (M), John Williams (D).

OUTLOOK: The Crew’s success in 2014 was a pleasant surprise, and Berhalter has made only a few minor changes to the winning formula. Supremacy in the Eastern Conference is very much up in the air, so there is no reason to believe that Columbus won’t be in contention for a high playoff seed.


►  ‘15 Season Preview: D.C. United eye Cup run

D. C. United were Major league soccer’s first powerhouse team, and though the club has seen its share of ups and downs over the years, a strong season last year showed United could be on its way back to the top.

With four MLS Cup titles, United has had a tradition of winning and last season was no exception. Two seasons ago. United endured possibly the worst season in league history as the club managed just three wins in 34 matches.

Ben Olsen’s team announced its winning intentions in the first game of 2014 with a 3-0 win over the Columbus Crew. United maintained that success all season and finished at the top of the Eastern Conference with 59 points.

Unfortunately things fell apart in the playoffs as the club suffered a 3-2 aggregate loss to the New York Red Bulls.

Despite the playoff defeat, the club had an outstanding regular season and many of the key cogs from 2014 will be in the mix this time around.

Along the back line, United’s breakout star is second-year defender Steve Birnbaum. The 6-foot-1 defender anchored the defense and earned himself a U.S. National team call up in the process.

Joining Birnbaum in central defense will be former Houston Dynamo defender Bobby Boswell, who is back for his second season in the black and red of United, while Sean Franklin will occupy the right back spot and Taylor Kemp slots in at left back.

In midfield Perry Kitchen sits in his preferred holding midfield spot, while newcomer Markus Halsti could be next to Kitchen or in the back as the Finland international can play both positions.

Halsti, 30, comes to United after seven seasons with Malmo in the Swedish top flight. He brings plenty of European experience to United having led Malmo to three league titles in the last five seasons. He also has made 20 Champions League appearances with Malmo.

“We are pleased to be adding a player with solid European playing experience at the club, Champions League, and National Team levels,“ said D.C. United General Manager Dave Kasper. “Markus can play as both a central midfielder and central defender, and this was quite attractive to us. He is a tough competitor and another very good character piece for our club. We look forward to having him join our family.“

In attacking midfield, United returns Nick DeLeon, Chris Rolfe and Chris Pontius, while former Philadelphia Union midfielder joins D.C. from Mexican league side Cruz Azul.

The club also added reinforcements in the forward ranks by acquiring former Columbus Crew striker Jairo Arrieta.

Arrieta scored 17 goals and added nine assists over the past three seasons with Columbus. He will pose a significant goal threat which is something United desperately needs in the early part of the season as Eddie Johnson is out indefinitely and Fabian Espindola will miss the first six games of the season due to suspension.

“Jairo will provide us with important depth this year at the forward position,“ said Kasper. “He is a smart player who finds great spots on the field, and we like his work ethic and commitment. We welcome him to the D.C. United family.“

2014 In Review: United had a stellar campaign, racking up 59 points to finish in first place in the Eastern Conference. But that great regular was derailed by bitter rivals New York Red Bulls in the conference semifinals.

Acquisitions: Jairo Arrieta (F), Markus Halsti (M/D), Michael Farfan (M), Miguel Aguilar (M).

Losses: Jeff Parke (D), Joe Willis (GK), Nana Attakora (D), Lewis Neal (M), Kyle Porter (M).

Outlook: There’s plenty to be said for continuity in professional sports, and United have opted to make only small tweaks to a roster that had plenty of success last season. Birnbaum has established himself as a future star, while Halsti will bring plenty of experience and veteran savvy. Forward could be a little dicey early in the season, but Arrieta is more than capable of leading the line. The playoffs are almost a sure thing, but Olsen’s team will be aiming much higher than just making the playoffs. This team is a definite Supporters’ Shield contender.


►  ‘15 Season Preview: MLS Cup or bust for Sounders

Seattle Sounders FC have been one of the league’s most successful franchises since making the jump from USL to Major League Soccer in 2009.

The Sounders made the postseason in their inaugural campaign and haven’t looked back. They’ve won four U.S. Open Cup trophies, made the playoffs every year of their MLS existence, claimed one Cascadia Cup title and won last year’s Supporters’ Shield.

The one thing missing from Seattle’s resume is an MLS Cup title, and that will be the only goal for the Sounders this season.

Sigi Schmid’s club had an outstanding campaign in 2014, the club won 20 games and pipped the rival Los Angeles Galaxy for the Supporters’ Shield in the final two weeks of the season.

But the Galaxy had the last laugh in the postseason as the Sounders fell to Los Angeles on away goals after battling to a 2-2 aggregate draw over 180 minutes.

Surely losing to a bitter rival one step before reaching MLS Cup final will provide plenty of motivation for this season. Most of last season’s team returns intact, and the club is certainly built for the long haul.

In defense Brad Evans and Chad Marshall will pair together in the middle, while Leo Gonzalez will likely slot in at left back, while the change in the back line will be English defender Tyrone Mears at right back replacing DeAndre Yedlin, who went to Tottenham-Hotspur.

Mears, 32, comes to Seattle from Championship side Bolton Wanderers, where he spent the past three seasons. He has made over 200 appearances in England. In addition to his time with Bolton, Mears has had stints with Burnley, Derby County and West Ham United.

“Tyrone is a player we had an opportunity to evaluate over the past summer when he trained with us in Seattle and we were very impressed with his pedigree,“ said Schmid. “He’s a fullback that is solid defensively, with the ability to posses the ball and to get forward in the attack. Tyrone is also a very good one-versus-one defender—a capability that is a key ingredient to success in our league—and we’re excited about his future with our club.“

In midfield Osvaldo Alonso returns the middle of the park alongside Gonzalo Pineda, while Marco Pappa and Lamar Neagle will occupy the wing positions.

Neagle enjoyed a breakout season last year as the Seattle native set career highs in almost every statistical category in 2014, including appearances (30), starts (27), minutes (2,409), goals (8), and assists (4). He was also a finalist for MLS Comeback Player of the year award.

“Lamar is an attacking midfielder who plays smart and adds versatility to our club. He is a great teammate and positive presence in the locker room,“said sporting director Chris Henderson.

Pineda, 32, is another experienced wide attacking midfielder who joined the Sounders from Liga MX side Queretaro, where he scored one goal in 27 appearances. He appeared in 28 games for the Sounders in 2014, scoring three goals and adding seven assists.

As prolific as the midfield is, the star power is in the forward ranks and U.S. national team captain Clint Dempsey returns along with Nigeria international Obafemi Martins.

Dempsey, 31, powered the Seattle attack to the tune of 15 goals and 10 assists, while Martins followed suit with an impressive 17 goals and 13 assists, creating one of the most potent strike partnerships in the league.

“Clint is a proven winner, a leader and a competitor who we believe will raise the bar for this organization on and off the field.“

The Sounders also have some nice depth in the forward ranks with Kenny Cooper and Chad Barrett, but the road to MLS Cup final goes through Dempsey and Martins, and if they can stay healthy, the Sounders are early Cup favorites.

ACQUISITIONS: Tyrone Mears (D), Cristian Roldan (M), Andy Craven (F), Andres Correa (D).

LOSSES: DeAndre Yedlin (D), Cam Weaver (F), Djimi Traore (D), Jalil Anibaba (D), Tristan Bowen (F).

OUTLOOK: There is only one goal for the Sounders this season, and that is to win MLS Cup. Losing on the away goals tiebreaker in the Conference finals will sting, but with the majority of last year’s club returning, especially Martins and Dempsey, the Sounders will once again be a force in the competitive Western Conference. Supporters’ Shield favorites and possible MLS Cup finalists.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Juve’s Caceres fractures ankle in training

Juventus defender Martin Caceres is set for a spell on the sidelines after fracturing his left ankle in training on Sunday.

Caceres was taking part in a training session ahead of Juve’s match with Sassuolo on Monday when he suffered the injury, which the club confirmed will require surgery.

The 27-year-old missed a large part of the season with a thigh injury, limiting him to 10 Serie A appearances. And his latest injury will likely prevent Caceres from playing again this season with Juve sitting eight points clear at the top of Serie A and in the knockout round of the Champions League.


►  Zola sacked by Cagliari

Cagliari announced on Monday that the club has fired manager Gianfranco Zola after a poor run of results that has left the team in the relegation zone.

Zola took charge of Cagliari in December from Zdenek Zeman, but after posting just two wins in 10 games, Zola’s men find themselves in 18th place and four points from safety.

A statement from Cagliari read: “The decision was not an easy one given the greatness of a man who has written unforgettable pages in the history of Cagliari and who has represented Sardinia with prestige on the international stage. We would like to thank him and his staff for dedicating themselves to the job in a professional and passionate manner and wish them all the best for the future.“

Zola was born in the Cagliari area and played two seasons for the club at the end of his career, but he will be unable to rescue the team from the drop.

According to reports that job may once again belong to Zeman, who could take over for the remainder of the campaign.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  College Football Playoff commissioners to consider releasing fewer rankings, which likely won’t please ESPN

For the most part, the inaugural College Football Playoff was a smashing success, both in terms of fan interest — TV ratings were through the roof for ESPN — and the actual product on the field. But if there was one criticism, it was over the necessity of the weekly rankings, especially after TCU dropped from No. 3 in the penultimate rankings to No. 6 and out of the playoffs in the final tally.

The conference commissioners who run the playoff seem to be coming around to the fact that releasing weekly rankings might actually be detrimental, with some telling ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich that they’ll look at reducing the number of rankings when they meet next month:

The majority of commissioners said the only significant change in 2015 should be fewer than the seven weekly rankings. When the rankings were initially discussed, it was proposed they would be released every other week.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said he would ask the group to consider “a poll midseason, a poll at Week 9, and a poll that’s at the end” to avoid “the abrupt fluctuations you sometimes had this year.”

Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said he would suggest maybe three or four rankings and possibly having them every other week in November before the final ranking in December.

“That’s really the only change I would hope we have a conversation about in April,” Thompson said. “We don’t need seven. I know ESPN likes seven. It’s great ratings, but there’s other ways you get around it. It’s good information because all week you can argue back and f

orth … so it’s all good for the sport. But they don’t mean anything, quite honestly.”

And that’s where any talk of reducing the number of rankings probably dies. ESPN’s weekly rankings reveal garnered pretty good TV ratings, about as good as the network’s lowest-rated bowl games and an improvement over the network’s BCS ratings reveal of years past. And ESPN, it probably should be mentioned, is paying a metric ton of money for the playoff and all that it entails: about $5.4 billion over 12 years. Does anyone honestly think ESPN is going to give up a weekly show that gets good ratings and likely is quite cheap to produce? Not a chance.

Unless, I dunno, maybe the network can negotiate a trade of sorts. In exchange for fewer rankings, the playoff agrees to move the semifinals to January 2 instead of New Year’s Eve, which everyone agrees is a dumb, momentum-killing idea. Problem solved.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  And you thought NFL rules couldn’t get any sillier…

The NFL’s new three-day window in which teams are allowed to legally tamper with players made for an entertaining if not downright wild and woolly Sunday afternoon.

Bam, Ndamukong Suh had an agreement with the Miami Dolphins. Pow, Frank Gore and Byron Maxwell have deals in place with the Philadelphia Eagles. Boom, Devin McCourty was staying with the New England Patriots. On and on it went. It was a little breathtaking and a little baffling because, while teams and players were allowed to enter into discussions, they were prohibited from reaching agreements and signing before the 4 PM Tuesday deadline.

It made the whole legal tampering weekend seem like it was governed more by guidelines than rules and the NFL, on Monday, informed teams that it was not amused by illegal legal tampering. In an email obtained by NFL.com’s Albert Breer, it informed teams that:

Clubs were advised of the rules for the three-day negotiating period in PP-23-15 (attached). These rules include limitations such as that a club cannot make an “offer;” or enter into a written or oral agreement of any kind, express or implied, or make promises or representations of any type concerning the terms or conditions of employment to be offered to any Unrestricted Free Agent for inclusion in a Player Contract after the start of the new League Year; or provide assurances of intent as to the future execution of an NFL Player Contract. Clubs were further advised that “Any attempt to undermine the purpose of this negotiating period may be considered conduct detrimental to the League.” At this time, the League office is beginning investigations into a number of reported agreements with clubs. Violations will be dealt with accordingly.

Just why did the NFL write the rule in the first place? The Post’s Mark Maske explains:

The three-day negotiating window was established a few years ago as an attempt to dissuade teams’ front office executives and agents from conducting impermissible negotiations between the NFL scouting combine and the opening of the free agent market. The need for such conversations would be lessened, league officials hoped, if those deliberations could take place legally in the three days before free agency.

It seems like a good idea on the face of it, but, naturally, everyone found a workaround that was either deliberately deceitful or merely expedient. In fairness to the NFL office, keeping teams in line can make herding cats look like a day at the beach. Still, how did no one foresee that, in an age of social media and instant communication, this would happen? (One of the worst offenders when it came to leaks was the NFL’s own network.) As for why the NFL is upset, the unofficial agreements take a lot of the pop out one of its manufactured “news days.” Now, when 4 PM EDT arrives Tuesday, there’ll be far less drama and much headlines.


►  Report: Maclin headed to KC

Jeremy Maclin is reuniting with former coach Andy Reid.

Maclin plans to sign with the Kansas City Chiefs when free agency officially begins Tuesday, according to ESPN.com.

Maclin, who signed a one-year contract prior to last season after missing all of 2013 with a torn ACL, caught 85 passes for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns while playing all 16 games.

Reid was the head coach of the Eagles when they selected Maclin in the first round of the 2009 draft.

Kansas City did not have a receiver with a touchdown catch in 2014.


►  Hughes set to return to Buffalo

The Buffalo Bills weren’t willing to let Jerry Hughes hit the open market, re-signing the defensive end to an undisclosed contract on Monday.

According to the Buffalo News on Monday, Hughes and the Bills have agreed to a five-year contract with NFL.com reporting the deal to be worth at least $45 million with $20 million guaranteed.

Hughes has spent the past two seasons in Buffalo after playing three years with Indianapolis. He started 16 games for the first time in his career last season and finished with 10 sacks and 53 tackles.

The 26-year-old TCU product also had 10 sacks in his first year with the Bills after amassing a total of five in three seasons with the Colts, who made him a first-round pick in 2010.


►  Mallett to stay with Texans, Hoyer likely to join him

The Houston Texans have reportedly re-signed quarterback Ryan Mallett.

NFL.com is reporting that Mallett’s deal is for two years and $7 million.

Additionally, another report is saying that the Texans will also sign free agent quarterback Brian Hoyer and allow the two signal-callers to battle it out for the starting position.

Both were backups in New England when Texans head coach Bill O’Brien was a Patriots assistant.

Mallett appeared in three games, starting twice, last season in his first year with the Texans. He completed 54.7% of his passes for 400 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Over his career, Mallett has appeared in seven games, completing 53.2% of his passes for 417 yards with two scores and three picks.

Hoyer was the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns for most of last season, appearing in 14 games and completing 55.3% of his passes for 3,326 yards with 12 TDs and 13 picks.

Over his six-year career, Hoyer has appeared in 32 games, completing 56.5% of his passes for 4,557 yards with 19 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.


►  Report: Niners’ Willis to retire

Patrick Willis will reportedly announce his retirement after eight seasons with the San Francisco 49ers.

Yahoo! Sports and NFL.com reported the news, saying the seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker will make it official on Tuesday.

The 30-year-old veteran played just six games last season because of a toe injury that eventually required surgery. He registered 34 tackles with an interception last season.

Willis was a first-round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft and recorded more than 100 tackles in six of his first seven seasons. The Ole Miss product also had 20 1/2 sacks with eight interceptions.


►  Panthers re-sign Whittaker

The Carolina Panthers re-signed running back Fozzy Whittaker to a two-year deal on Monday.

Whittaker appeared in 10 games last season for the Panthers, running for 145 yards on 32 attempts. He had two total touchdowns, scoring once rushing and once receiving.

Over his two-year career, which also includes splitting the first year of his career with San Diego and Cleveland, Whittaker has 224 total rushing yards and 215 receiving yards with four total TDs.

The Panthers also re-signed wide receiver Brenton Bersin, center Brian Folkerts and linebacker Ben Jacobs to one-year contracts.

Bersin played in 15 regular-season games with one start for Carolina in 2014, recording 13 catches for 151 yards and one touchdown.

Folkerts played in all 16 regular-season games for the Panthers in 2014, seeing action as a reserve center and guard, in goal-line packages and on special teams.

Jacobs led Carolina with nine special teams tackles in 2014 and added one tackle on defense. He saw action in all 16 regular-season games and two postseason games.


►  Ginn returns to Carolina

The Carolina Panthers have signed wide receiver Ted Ginn to a two-year contract.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Ginn played for the Panthers in 2013 and will return to Charlotte after spending the 2014 campaign in Arizona. He was released by the Cardinals last month.

“I’m back Bank of America,“ Ginn said on Instagram with a photo of him signing his contract.

Ginn had 36 catches for 556 yards with a career-high five touchdowns as a receiver with Carolina in 2013 and set a team record with a 12.2-yard punt return average.

In 16 games for the Cardinals last season, he had just 14 catches for 190 yards while adding 10.7 yards with a score on 26 punt returns and a 19.0-yard average on 22 kickoff returns.

The 29-year-old Ohio State product, who was selected ninth overall by Miami in 2007, has compiled 211 catches for 2,794 yards and 11 touchdowns and seven return scores in 120 career games with the Dolphins, 49ers, Panthers and Cardinals.


►  Steelers agree to terms with Moats

The Steelers agreed to terms with linebacker Arthur Moats on a three-year contract Monday.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Moats saw action in all 16 regular-season games (10 starts) and the lone postseason contest in 2014, setting a single season career-high with four sacks while contributing 23 tackles (17 solo), two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

Since entering the NFL as a sixth round draft choice of the Buffalo Bills in 2010, Moats has totaled 132 tackles (75 solo) and nine sacks in 75 games with 30 starts. He joined the Steelers as an unrestricted free agent in 2014 after spending his first four years in Buffalo.


►  Steelers re-sign Spaeth

The Pittsburgh Steelers agreed to terms with tight end Matt Spaeth on a two-year contract Monday.

Spaeth, 31, appeared in 15 games in 2014, starting eight times, and caught three passes for 46 yards with a touchdown.

For his career, Spaeth has 53 receptions for 410 yards with 10 touchdowns in eight NFL seasons.

The Gilmer Free Press


References
ABC - American Broadcasting Company
CBS - Columbia Broadcast System
FOX - Fox Entertainment Group
NBC - National Broadcasting Company
JIP - Joined in Progress
DSS - DIRECTV
TSN - Sports Network (Canada)
SNET/SN - Rogers SportsNet (Canada)
RDS - Reseau des sports
MSG - Madison Square Garden Network
TNT - Turner Network Television
TBS - Turner Broadcasting System
SNY - SportsNet New York
CBSSN - CBS - College Sports Network
CSN - Comcast SportsNet
TCN - The Comcast Network
NBCSN - NBC Sports Network
NESN - New England Sports Network
MASN - Mid-Atlantic Sports Network
ROOT - Root Sports (Pittsburgh, Northwest, Rocky Mountain)
CST - Cox Sports Television
FCS - FOX College Sports
FS - FOX Sports Regional
RSN - Regional Sports Networks
CPTV - Connecticut Public Broadcasting
TVG - Horse Racing Channel
FS1 - FOX Sports 1
TWC - Time Warner Cable Sports Channel
* - If Necessary


TUESDAY, MARCH 10, 2015
Major League Baseball - Spring Training
Detroit vs. Philadelphia, 1:05 PM - MLB Network, TCN-Philadelphila
NY Yankees vs. Baltimore, 1:05 PM - MASN
Cincinnati vs. Milwaukee, 4:05 PM - FS-Wisconsin
Texas vs. LA Angels, 4:05 PM - MLB Network
Colorado vs. Los Angeles, 4:05 PM - SportsNet LA
Chicago Cubs vs. Cleveland, 4:05 PM - SportsTime Ohio
National Basketball Association
Orlando at Indiana, 7:00 PM - FS-Florida, Indiana, DSS
New Orleans at Brooklyn, 7:30 PM - FS-New Orleans, YES, DSS
Cleveland at Dallas, 8:30 PM - FS-Ohio, Southwest, DSS
Toronto at San Antonio, 8:30 PM - TSN2, FS-Southwest, DSS
New York at Utah, 9:00 PM - MSG, ROOT-Northwest, DSS
Detroit at LA Lakers, 10:30 PM - FS-Detroit, Time Warner Sports, DSS
National Hockey League
Dallas at Philadelphia, 7:00 PM - FS-Southwest, CSN-Philadelphia, DSS
NY Rangers at NY Islanders, 7:00 PM - MSG2, MSG+, DSS
Columbus at Carolina, 7:00 PM - FS-Ohio, Carolina, DSS
Tampa Bay at Montreal, 7:30 PM - SunSports, RDS, DSS
Boston at Ottawa, 7:30 PM - NESN, RDS2, TSN5, DSS
New Jersey at Minnesota, 8:00 PM - MSG+2, FS-North, DSS
Winnipeg at St. Louis, 8:00 PM - TSN3, FS-Midwest, DSS
Los Angeles at Colorado, 9:00 PM - NBCSN
College Basketball
Georgia Tech vs. Boston College, 1:00 PM - ACC Network, ESPN 2
Virginia Tech vs. Wake Forest, 3:00 PM - ACC Network, ESPN 2
Robert Morris at St. Francis (NY), 7:00 PM - ESPN 2
Green Bay at Valparaiso, 7:00 PM - ESPN
Princeton at Penn, 7:30 PM - CBSSN
Summit League Championship, 9:00 PM - ESPN 2
West Coast Championship, 9:00 PM - ESPN
Women’s College Basketball
Summit League Championship, 2:00 PM - ESPN U
Mountain West Tournament, 3:00 PM - Mountain West Network
WCC Championship, 4:00 PM - ESPN U
UNLV vs. Boise State, 5:30 PM - Mountain West Network
Big East Championship, 8:00 PM - FS1
UC Irvine vs. UC Davis, 9:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Mountain West Tournament, 9:00 PM - Mountain West Network
CS Fullerton vs. UC Riverside, 11:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Mountain West Tournament, 11:30 PM - Mountain West Network
International Soccer
Real Madrid vs. Schalke, 3:30 PM - FS1

Pioneers Win MEC Tournament Championship with 65-58 Victory over Fairmont State

The Gilmer Free Press

Fifth-seeded Glenville State defeated second-seeded Fairmont State, 65-58, to take on home the 2015 Mountain East Conference men’s basketball tournament at the Charleston Civic Center.

The Pioneers (21-10) won their first conference tournament title since 1974. GSC and Fairmont State will await their NCAA Tournament fate tonight at 10:30 PM on NCAA.com.

Donte Morales, the MEC Tournament MVP, scored 21 points to lead GSC. Sedric Nady added 15 points and Brett Morris turned in a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Reggie Williams also chipped in 10 points.

Fairmont State (21-9) was led by 19 points and 10 rebounds from Thomas Wimbush. Nick Harney had 15 points to go with seven boards, and Jamel Morris contributed 12 points.

The Pioneers came into the game ranking near the bottom in the NCAA in rebounding margin at -5.7, but out-rebounded FSU 38-29. GSC had more rebounds than its opponent in each of its four tournament victories.

Fairmont State jumped out to an early 9-2 lead, but the Pioneers used a 17-3 run to get back into the game and surge ahead at 25-16 with 3:38 to go. GSC took a 31-26 lead into halftime.

The Falcons remained in the game and took the lead back at 37-36 after a Caleb Davis lay-in with at 12:52. The game was tied for the final time at 46-46 with 9:51, but a 9-3 run by the Pioneers would give them the lead for good and the MEC championship.


2015 MEC All-Tournament Team

Pat Moseh, Wheeling Jesuit

C.J. Hester, West Liberty

Thomas Wimbush, Fairmont State

Nick Harney, Fairmont State

Jamel Morris, Fairmont State

Sedric Nady, Glenville State

Reggie Williams, Glenville State

MVP - Donte Morales, Glenville State

Sports News   150309

The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  MEC Women’s Basketball Tournament Final: West Liberty 76, Notre Dame 55‏

No team in the Mountain East Conference made more 3-point field goals this season than West Liberty.

Sunday afternoon in the championship game of the MEC Basketball Tournament at the Charleston Civic Center the top-seeded Hilltoppers drained 11 treys, including six in the second half to pull away from sixth-seeded Notre Dame College and record a 76-55 victory.

West Liberty, which shared the conference’s regular-season title with Shepherd and the University of Charleston, claimed its first Mountain East Conference Tournament championship. It’s also the Hilltoppers first league tournament title in 11 years. West Liberty last won the WVIAC Tournament title in 2004.

“I’m so humbled to be sitting up here,“ said West Liberty coach Lynn Ullom, whose team improved to 23-8 with its seventh straight victory. “We talk all of the time about it being moments like this which is why we do this. Playing college basketball is not easy. There’s a lot of ups and downs. It’s hard work and there’s a lot of heartbreak that goes along with it, but if you’re fortunate enough to cut the nets down and enjoy a moment like we’re enjoying it makes it all worth it.“

West Liberty battled foul trouble in the first half and had three starters on the bench with two fouls apiece, but still only trailed the Falcons by one at the break thanks to the efforts of Bri Kamarec, who scored all 12 of her points in the game’s first 20 minutes.

In the second half with senior guard Hillary Southworth back on the floor West Liberty wasted no time going to work from the perimeter. The Hilltoppers canned four of their first six 3-point attempts in the final half, three of which came from Southworth to help turn their 39-38 halftime deficit into a 53-41 lead with 13:22 to play.

“I honestly don’t have a lot of confidence in my 3-point shot,“ said a smiling Southworth, who finished with 14 points, 12 of which came in the final half. “As a senior you see your career possibly coming to an end if you don’t do something. I took the shots and hoped they’d go in. They felt great leaving my hand, but it may have been luck more than anything.“

West Liberty ended up shooting 50 percent from the field (30-of-60) in the win, including an 11-of-23 showing (47.8 percent) from 3-point range. The Hilltoppers also handed out 25 assists on 30 field goals. Point guard Kailee Howe finished with a game-high 12 assists and eight points, while center Kierra Simpson added 17 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Guard Liz Flowers chipped in seven points and 10 rebounds.

As good as West Liberty’s offense was, it was the Hilltoppers’ defense which really made the difference in the contest. Notre Dame was held to just 16 second-half points and finished the game with its second-worst shooting performance of the season as a team. The Falcons connected on just 17-of-59 field goal attempts (28.8 percent), including a dismal 5-of-23 showing (21.7 percent) in the final half. Notre Dame did not connect on its first field goal of the second half until the 11:42 mark. By then the Falcons were behind by double figures.

“When you score 16 points in a half it’s going to be tough to stay with a team that you were pretty much even with after the first half,“ said Notre Dame coach Katie Hine, whose team ended the year with a 20-12 record. “In the second half our percentages were low across the board. We got to the foul line 32 times which was great, but we shot under 60 percent from there and only 36 percent from there in the second half. Our 3-point shooting was also only 14 percent in the second half. If we had gotten a couple of those buckets to fall then maybe it would’ve been a momentum changer for us, but we just couldn’t get them to drop.

“West Liberty just played really good ‘D.‘ We weren’t getting very many good looks. It was a tough loss, but we can’t hang our heads.“

Martha Nagbe and Kelsey Miller led Notre Dame with 18 and 15 points respectively. Nagbe also grabbed a team-high nine rebounds, while Miller added seven.

“It’s been a great year for us,“ said Nagbe. “I had a great time playing with my teammates. It’s sad it had to end this way when we came so far, but it was still a great season and I’m proud of us for getting this far and having the chance to play for a championship.“

The MVP of the Mountain East Conference Tournament was West Liberty’s Kailee Howe. Members of the league’s all-tournament team included West Liberty’s Kierra Simpson and Hillary Southworth, Notre Dame’s Martha Nagbe and Lauren Langenderfer, Shepherd’s Gabby Flinchum, Wheeling Jesuit’s Jaila Bryant and Glenville State’s Keyanna Tate.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  All-Big 12 Men’s Basketball Honors

After becoming the first Sooner to lead the Big 12 in scoring since 2008-09, junior guard Buddy Hield has been named the Big 12 Player of the Year. Iowa State’s Jameel McKay was chosen as Defensive Player of the Year, while OU’s TaShawn Thomas is the Newcomer of the Year. Texas forward Myles Turner is the Freshman of the Year, with Baylor’s Taurean Prince earning the Sixth Man Award. Bob Huggins of West Virginia was selected as Big 12 Coach of the Year for the first time.

Hield’s 17.4 points per game was the best in the league for all games played, while his 18.5-point average also ranked first in conference competition. He ranked in the top 15 in rebounding (5.5 rpg), field goal percentage (.424), free throw shooting (.804) and steals (43). The junior has scored in double figures in all but one Big 12 game, including 20 points or more eight times. Hield is the second Sooner (Blake Griffin, 2008-09) to earn Big 12 Player of the Year honors.

McKay became eligible in December and finished third in conference play in rebounding with 7.4 boards per game. The junior was second in blocks with 45 in 18 league contests, while his total of 50 rejections overall was third among Big 12 players despite playing in just 21 games. He has finished the regular season strong, posting double-doubles in the final three outings. McKay is the first Cyclone to be named the Big 12’s top defender.

Thomas transferred to Oklahoma prior to this season and made an immediate impact. The senior forward scored in double figures 17 times and had 42 blocked shots. He shot 51.4 percent on the season (second in the league), was a three-time Big 12 Newcomer of the Week and has started all 126 games of his career. Thomas is the fifth OU player to be chosen for newcomer accolades.

For the fifth time, the Freshman of the Year is a Texas Longhorn. Turner has 87 blocked shots, three away from the Big 12 single-season freshman record and five short of the school mark. He has recorded at least five blocks in nine different games and also leads the team in rebounding (6.6 rpg) while placing second in scoring (10.8 ppg).

Among the top 15 in overall scoring and rebounding, Prince established his presence without making one start in Big 12 play. He finished third in conference action with 15.6 points per contest and was fourth in field goal percentage (.473). He has a team-best 25 games in double-figures in 2014-15 and has reached the plateau in 15 consecutive outings. Prince is the third Baylor Bear to win the Sixth Man Award.

Huggins led the Mountaineers to the second-highest win total in the Big 12 after being selected sixth in the conference preseason poll. West Virginia has 11 conference wins for the first time since the 2010-11 campaign and its 23 wins overall are the most since the 2009-10 Final Four season. The award is the 11th Coach of the Year accolade for Huggins in his 33-year coaching career.

The All-Big 12 First, Second, Third and Honorable Mention teams were also announced, while conference coaches also selected All-Defensive and All-Newcomer Teams. Juwan Staten (West Virginia) was the lone repeat selection on the first team.

The official All-Big 12 awards are selected by the league’s head coaches, who are not allowed to vote for their own players.

Coach of the Year: Bob Huggins, West Virginia

Player of the Year: Buddy Hield, Oklahoma

Defensive Player of the Year: Jameel McKay, Iowa State

Sixth Man Award: Taurean Prince, Baylor

Newcomer of the Year: TaShawn Thomas, Oklahoma

Freshman of the Year: Myles Turner, Texas

All-Big 12 First Team Pos. Ht. Wt. Cl. Hometown/Previous School(s)
Rico Gathers, Baylor F 6-8 275 Jr. LaPlace, La./Riverside Academy
Georges Niang, Iowa State F 6-8 230 Jr. Methuen, Mass./The Tilton School
Perry Ellis, Kansas F 6-8 225 Jr. Wichita, Kan./Wichita Heights
Buddy Hield, Oklahoma G 6-4 212 Jr. Freeport, Bahamas/Sunrise Christian Academy [Kan.]
Juwan Staten, West Virginia G 6-1 190 Sr. Dayton, Ohio/Dayton
 
All-Big 12 Second Team Pos. Ht. Wt. Cl. Hometown/Previous School(s)
Kenny Chery, Baylor G 5-11 180 Sr. Montreal, Quebec/Archbishop Carroll [D.C.]/State Fair CC
Taurean Prince, Baylor F 6-7 215 Jr. San Antonio, Texas/Earl Warren
Monté Morris, Iowa State G 6-2 170 So. Flint, Mich./Beecher
Frank Mason III, Kansas G 5-11 185 So. Petersburg, Va./Massanutten Military Academy
Le’Bryan Nash, Oklahoma State F 6-7 235 Sr. Dallas, Texas/Lincoln
 
All-Big 12 Third Team Pos. Ht. Wt. Cl. Hometown/Previous School(s)
Jameel McKay, Iowa State F 6-9 215 Jr. Milwaukee, Wis./Indian Hills CC [Iowa]/Marquette/Pulaski
TaShawn Thomas, Oklahoma F 6-8 242 Sr. Killeen, Texas/University of Houston
Phil Forte, Oklahoma State G 5-11 185 Jr. Flower Mound, Texas/Marcus
Isaiah Taylor, Texas G 6-1 170 So. Hayward, Calif./The Village School [Texas]
Myles Turner, Texas F 6-11 240 Fr. Bedford, Texas/Euless Trinity
 
All-Big 12 Honorable Mention (Listed alphabetically by school)
Dustin Hogue (Iowa State), Kelly Oubre (Kansas), Wayne Selden (Kansas), Marcus Foster (Kansas State), Thomas Gipson (Kansas State), Nino Williams (Kansas State), Isaiah Cousins (Oklahoma), Ryan Spangler (Oklahoma), Kyan Anderson (TCU), Jonathan Holmes (Texas), Devin Williams (West Virginia)
 
Big 12 All-Defensive Team Pos. Ht. Wt. Cl. Hometown/Previous School(s)
Rico Gathers, Baylor F 6-8 275 Jr. LaPlace, La./Riverside Academy
Jameel McKay, Iowa State F 6-9 215 Jr. Milwaukee, Wis./Indian Hills CC [Iowa]/Marquette/Pulaski
Michael Cobbins, Oklahoma State F 6-8 230 Sr. Amarillo, Texas/Palo Duro
Anthony Hickey, Oklahoma State G 5-11 185 Sr. Hopkinsville, Ky./Christian County/LSU
Myles Turner, Texas F 6-11 240 Fr. Bedford, Texas/Euless Trinity
Jevon Carter, West Virginia G 6-2 185 Fr. Maywood, Ill./Proviso East
 
Big 12 All-Newcomer Team Pos. Ht. Wt. Cl. Hometown/Previous School(s)
Jameel McKay, Iowa State** F 6-9 215 Jr. Milwaukee, Wis./Indian Hills CC [Iowa]/Marquette/Pulaski
Kelly Oubre, Kansas G 6-7 200 Fr. New Orleans, La./Findlay Prep [Nev.]
TaShawn Thomas, Oklahoma F 6-8 242 Sr. Killeen, Texas/University of Houston
Anthony Hickey, Oklahoma State G 5-11 185 Sr. Hopkinsville, Ky./Christian County/LSU
Myles Turner, Texas F 6-11 240 Fr. Bedford, Texas/Euless Trinity

** - Unanimous Selection

Ties in the voting created an additional spot on the All-Defensive Team



<The Gilmer Free Press

►  Top-25 College Men’s Basketball Game Results

(Sunday, March 08)


Final Score: (6) Wisconsin 72, (23) Ohio State 48

If Frank Kaminsky didn’t already have Big Ten Player of the Year wrapped up, he sealed the deal on Sunday. Kaminsky netted 20 points and No. 6 Wisconsin will carry momentum into the conference tournament following a 72-48 drubbing of Ohio State in the regular- season finale for both teams. Bronson Koenig added 15 points and Sam Dekker scored 10 for the Badgers (28-3, 16-2 Big Ten), who had already wrapped up the Big Ten regular-season crown. They will be the top seed in the conference tournament in Chicago, which begins on March 11. Wisconsin has won six of its last seven games away from home. Freshman phenom D’Angelo Russell paced Ohio State (22-9, 11-7) with 17 points and five assists.


Final Score: (10) Maryland 64, Nebraska 61

Melo Trimble scored 21 points, Dez Wells posted a double-double and No. 10 Maryland edged Nebraska 64-61 on Sunday. Wells had 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Terrapins (26-5, 14-4 Big Ten), who concluded the regular season on a seven-game winning streak. Shavon Shields paced Nebraska (13-17, 5-13) with 26 points but missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer ahead of the final buzzer. Terran Petteway had 19 points and 10 rebounds in the Cornhuskers’ eighth straight loss.


Final Score: (11) Northern Iowa 69, Illinois State 60

After a quiet first half, Seth Tuttle emerged and reminded MVC fans why he was voted the league’s top player. Tuttle finished with 15 points and nine rebounds and the 11th-ranked Panthers rallied past Illinois State 69-60 to win the Missouri Valley championship. Nate Buss added 15 points off the bench and Deon Mitchell netted 10 for Northern Iowa (30-3). Daishon Knight and Deontae Hawkins scored 16 and 14 points, respectively, for Illinois State (21-12), which stunned No. 8 Wichita State to reach the finals.


Final Score: (22) SMU 67, Tulsa 62

In a winner-take-all game for the American Athletic Conference championship, No. 22 SMU prevailed 67-62 over visiting Tulsa on Sunday. This marks the 15th conference championship in school history for the Mustangs (24-6, 15-3 AAC), and they will have a first-round bye in the conference tournament starting on March 12 in Hartford. Markus Kennedy paced SMU with 16 points off the bench, and Cannen Cunningham added a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. The Golden Hurricane (21-9, 14-4) missed a great opportunity to bolster their resume one week before Selection Sunday. James Woodard scored a career-high 30 points with 10 3-pointers, but his teammates combined to shoot just 11-for-39 from the floor.



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►  NBA Game Results

(Sunday, March 08)


Final Score: San Antonio 116, Chicago 105

Tony Parker scored a season-high 32 points to lead the San Antonio Spurs in a 116-105 win over the Chicago Bulls on Sunday. Kawhi Leonard posted 20 points with eight rebounds and Manu Ginobili chipped in with 16 points for the Spurs, who have won five straight. Pau Gasol totaled 23 points and 15 rebounds, while Aaron Brooks netted 22 and Joakim Noah nearly recorded an atypical double-double with 11 rebounds and nine assists in the loss.


Final Score: Golden State 106, LA Clippers 98

Draymond Green scored 23 points with six assists as the Golden State Warriors defeated the Los Angeles Clippers, 106-98, on Sunday afternoon. Klay Thompson had 21 points and Shaun Livingston finished with season highs of 21 points and eight rebounds in the win. Golden State has won five of its last six games. Austin Rivers led LA with 22 points, J.J. Redick netted 18 and Chris Paul added 14 points with 11 assists. The Clippers were without Jamal Crawford due to a calf bruise he suffered in a game against Minnesota on March 2.


Final Score: Utah 95, Brooklyn 88

Gordon Hayward scored 24 points to lead the Utah Jazz to a 95-88 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday. Hayward and Derrick Favors, a former Net, scored 16 of Utah’s final 17 points to repel a late Brooklyn run. Favors finished with 22 points, Dante Exum added 14, and Rudy Gobert led the way with 11 rebounds in Utah’s fifth win in its last six games.


Final Score: Charlotte 108, Detroit 101

Al Jefferson had 24 points and seven rebounds as the Charlotte Hornets defeated the Detroit Pistons 108-101 on Sunday night. Jefferson finished an efficient 10-of-14 from the floor. Mo Williams added 21 points and nine assists for the Hornets, who have won five straight and six of their last seven games on the heels of a five-game losing streak. Reggie Jackson posted 25 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, while Greg Monroe supplied 18 points and 11 boards for Detroit, which has dropped six consecutive contests.


Final Score: Orlando 103, Boston 98

Elfrid Payton neared a triple-double and Orlando’s role players stepped up in the absence of Nikola Vucevic in the Magic’s 103-98 win over the Boston Celtics. Payton finished with 19 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists while Victor Oladipo and Tobias Harris netted 22 and 21 points, respectively. Dewayne Dedmon, making his second straight start in place of Vucevic (ankle), finished with 11 points and 16 rebounds. The Magic improved to 6-6 under interim coach James Borrego. Isaiah Thomas continued his stellar play off the bench with 21 points and nine assists for Boston, while Brandon Bass contributed 19 points and 17 rebounds in defeat.


Final Score: Dallas 100, LA Lakers 93

Monta Ellis netted 31 points and the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 100-93 on Sunday night. Al- Farouq Aminu posted 13 points, six steals, five rebounds and three blocks for the Mavericks, who had dropped four of their last five games coming in. Carlos Boozer supplied 17 points and eight boards off the bench for Los Angeles, which has lost five consecutive contests.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Cliff Lee undergoes MRI on elbow

A day after his first spring training start, Phillies starter Cliff Lee reported elbow soreness during an off-day workout.

Lee, a former Cy Young Award winner, was limited to 13 starts in 2014 due to a strained flexor tendon in his left elbow that led to two stints on the disabled list.

Philadelphia general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said that the examination is precautionary due to Lee’s recent history. Lee will miss his next start scheduled for Tuesday against the Tigers.

“Hopefully he’ll be able to make his following start, but I’ll talk with (pitching coach Bob McClure) and (manager Ryne Sandberg) and with Cliff and we’ll see how he feels moving forward to see how altered his schedule will be,“ Amaro said. “But it will all depend on how he feels when he starts throwing again.“

The 36-year-old Lee owns a 143-91 record with a 3.52 ERA over 13 seasons with the Phillies, Cleveland, Texas and Seattle. He has also been named to four All-Star teams.



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►  NHL Game Results

(Sunday, March 08)


Final Score: Boston 5, Detroit 3

Daniel Paille scored a pair of goals to help the Boston Bruins defeat the Detroit Red Wings 5-3 on Sunday. After only scoring once in his first 57 games this season, Paille now has four in his last six as Boston extended its point streak to five games. Brad Marchand scored a goal for the fourth straight game and David Pastrnak and Loui Eriksson netted a goal apiece for the Bruins. Niklas Svedberg made 36 saves to earn the win. Detroit lost for the second straight game after Jonas Gustavsson allowed four goals on 23 shots in two periods of work. Jimmy Howard relieved him at the start of the third period and allowed one goal on seven shots. Gustav Nyquist, Luke Glendening and Marek Zidlicky accounted for the Red Wings’ goals.


Final Score: Carolina 7, Edmonton 4

Elias Lindholm notched his first career hat trick and added two assists as Carolina scored six straight goals on its way to a 7-4 victory over Edmonton on Sunday. Jeff Skinner had two goals and Eric Staal posted four assists for the Hurricanes, who snapped a two- game losing streak. Cam Ward turned away 16 shots in the win. Ryan Nugent- Hopkins recorded his second career hat trick and added an assist while Jordan Eberle had a goal and two assists for the Oilers, who have lost their last four games. Richard Bachman allowed six goals on 34 shots in the loss.


Final Score: New Jersey 5, Philadelphia 2

Adam Henrique scored twice to help the New Jersey Devils in a 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday. Stephen Gionta posted a goal and an assist while Jacob Josefson and Eric Gelinas also scored for the Devils, who have won three of their last four. Steve Bernier had three assists and Keith Kinkaid allowed two goals on 27 shots. Ryan White and Michael Raffl each had a goal for the Flyers, who have lost five of their last seven. Steve Mason allowed all five goals on 21 shots in defeat.


Final Score: Colorado 3, Minnesota 2

Gabriel Landeskog and Zach Redmond each had a goal and an assist as the Colorado Avalanche held on for a 3-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Sunday at Xcel Energy Center. Jarome Iginla collected two assists for the Avalanche, who avoided being swept in the season series against the Wild after scoring only one goal in the first four meetings. Colorado, which saw a three-goal lead nearly evaporate, has won eight of its last 11 games. Semyon Varlamov, making his 22nd consecutive start for the Avalanche, made 29 saves before leaving with 5:44 to go in the game. He was stung by a high shot off his right shoulder early in the second period. Devan Dubnyk stopped 18 shots for the Wild, who had a five-game winning streak ended.


Final Score: Ottawa 5, Calgary 4 (SO)

Erik Karlsson scored the winning goal in the sixth round of the shootout as the Ottawa Senators survived to take a 5-4 win over the Calgary Flames on Sunday. The Senators took a 4-0 lead into the third period, but the Flames lit the lamp four times in the frame to force overtime, with the game eventually going to the shootout. In the sixth round, Karlsson snapped in a heavy wrister past the glove of Jonas Hiller, who relieved Karri Ramo in the second period. Craig Anderson then sealed the victory by stopping Kyle Turris’ backhand lift attempt. Alex Chiasson, Mark Borowiecki, Mike Hoffman and Milan Michalek each had a goal for the Senators, who have won eight of their last nine games. Anderson turned aside 42 shots in the win. Kris Russell had two goals while Joe Colborne and Mikael Backlund also scored for the Flames, who went 4-2-1 during a seven-game road trip. Ramo allowed four goals on 23 shots and Hiller turned aside all 19 he faced in relief.


Final Score: NY Rangers 1, Chicago 0 (OT)

Derick Brassard scored 32 seconds into overtime, and the New York Rangers topped the Chicago Blackhawks 1-0 on Sunday at United Center. After 60 scoreless and entertaining minutes, Brassard wasted little time ending the game in the extra session. He took a Mats Zuccarello cross-ice pass and beat Corey Crawford on the blocker side with a slap shot from the left circle. Cam Talbot made 29 saves to earn his fifth shutout of the season. It was the first time the Rangers blanked the Blackhawks since Jan. 25, 1969 and their first shutout in Chicago since Dec. 25, 1966. New York improved to 10-1-3 in its last 14 games. Crawford finished with 35 saves for the Blackhawks, who were looking to sweep their three-game homestand.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Kazakhstan overcomes Italy to reach Davis Cup QFs

Little-known Aleksandr Nedovyesov stunned world No. 22 Fabio Fognini in the fifth and deciding rubber, as host Kazakhstan upset Italy 3-2 in their opening-round Davis Cup affair in Astana.

The favored Italians headed into Sunday’s reverse singles with a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five battle, but world No. 58 Mikhail Kukushkin and the 130th- ranked Nedovyesov each posted upsets to elate the home crowd at the National Tennis Centre.

Kukushkin kept the hosts alive by surprising world No. 35 Andreas Seppi in straight sets, 7-6 (10-8), 6-0, 6-4, before the heroic Nedovyesov popped 18 aces in outlasting Fognini in five, 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, in 3 hours, 41 minutes. Fognini sat out Friday’s opening singles here.

Fognini and Simone Bolelli won Saturday’s doubles match in four sets over Nedovyesov and Andrey Golubev to give Italy a 2-1 advantage, while Friday’s opening singles were split, with wins coming from Kukushkin and Seppi.

Kazakhstan will meet Australia in July’s quarterfinals.


►  Serbs put finishing touches on Davis Cup sweep of Croats

Serbia won a pair of dead rubbers on Sunday to complete a 5-0 sweep of visiting Croatia in an opening-round Davis Cup affair in Kraljevo.

Filip Krajinovic handled Franco Skugor 6-4, 6-2 and Viktor Troicki doused Mate Delic 6-4, 6-3 in reverse singles play on Day 3.

On Saturday, world No. 1 great Novak Djokovic was inserted into the doubles lineup and helped the Serbs clinch a spot in July’s Davis Cup quarterfinals.

Djokovic easily won his opening singles match Friday to help the hosts to a 2-0 lead over the Croats at Kraljevo Sports Centre.

Serbia will next play Argentina or Brazil in the quarters.

The Serbs won their lone Davis Cup title in 2010, beating Croatia en route to the crown, and was the runner-up in the storied team competition two years ago.


►  Germany wins dead rubbers in Davis Cup loss to France

The opening-round Davis Cup tie between France and Germany concluded with a pair of dead rubber victories Sunday by the hosts in Frankfurt.

The French clinched a spot in July’s quarterfinals by taking an insurmountable 3-0 lead with a doubles victory by Julien Benneteau and Nicolas Mahut on Saturday. Friday’s opening singles saw Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils give the visitors from France a commanding 2-0 cushion.

Sunday’s meaningless reverse singles saw Philipp Kohlschreiber beat Gilles Simon 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 and Jan-Lennard Struff top Nicolas Mahut 7-6 (8-6), 6-3 at Fraport Arena.

The nine-time Davis Cup champion French will next play Great Britain in July’s quarterfinals.

France hasn’t won the crown since 2001 and last year came up just short with a loss to Switzerland in the final.

Germany, which won the last of its three Davis Cup titles in 1993, was eliminated by France for a second straight year. The French roared back from an 0-2 deficit in last year’s quarterfinals to pull off the stunning victory.

The Germans are 2-9 all-time against their European neighbors and haven’t beaten France in the storied competition since 1938.


►  Tomic sends Aussies into Davis Cup QFs

Bernard Tomic posted a big win Sunday, as he gave visiting Australia an insurmountable lead in its’ eventual 3-2 victory over the Czech Republic in an opening-round Davis Cup tie.

The Aussies headed into Day 3 with a 2-1 advantage in the best-of-five affair and the German-born Tomic propelled the visitors into the quarterfinals by besting Lukas Rosol 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) in 2 hours, 13 minutes at Cez Arena.

A dead rubber then saw little-known Czech Jan Mertl top Sam Groth, 6-3, 6-2.

The Czechs stayed alive on Saturday with a doubles victory by Jiri Vesely and Adam Pavlasek, this after Australia swept Friday’s opening singles with victories by Thanasi Kokkinakis and Tomic, respectively, in Ostrava.

The three-time Davis Cup champion Czechs played this weekend without Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek. The veteran duo helped the host nation to consecutive titles in 2012 and 2013.

Australia has won 28 Davis Cup titles, but none since 2003. The Aussies hadn’t advanced beyond the World Group first round since a semifinal run back in 2006.

The Aussies are now 7-1 versus the Czechs.

Next up for Australia will be visiting Kazakhstan in July.


►  Murray sends Brits past Americans, into Davis Cup quarters

Two-time Grand Slam champion and Scottish hero Andy Murray beat John Isner in straight sets on Sunday to propel Great Britain past the United States and into the Davis Cup quarterfinals.

The Brits had to win just one of two scheduled reverse singles matches on Sunday, and the world No. 5 Australian Open runner-up Murray was first up and took care of 20th-ranked 6-foot-10 American John Isner 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) in 2 hours, 31 minutes at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena to give the hosts an unassailable 3-1 lead in the best-of-five affair.

Isner swatted 28 aces but was unable to break Murray, who notched the only break of the match in the second stanza.

Murray is now 21-2 in his career Davis Cup singles rubbers, while the towering Isner is 8-9.

Doubles greats Bob and Mike Bryan kept the U.S. alive here on Saturday with a dramatic five-set victory over Dominic Inglot and Murray’s older brother, Jamie.

Friday’s opening singles saw Murray handle Donald Young in four sets and James Ward come back from two-sets-to-love down to stun Isner in five, including a dramatic 28-game fifth.

A dead rubber currently pits Ward against American Donald Young.

The Brits eliminated the U.S. for a second straight year in the first round, having claimed a 3-1 win last year in San Diego.

The U.S. still leads this all-time series, 11-9. The Americans own a record 32 Davis Cup titles, while Britain boasts nine, with its last coming in 1936. The Americans last hoisted the chalice in 2007.

The United States and British Isles met in the first-ever Davis Cup final in Boston in 1900.

Britain will host long-time Davis Cup rival France in July.


►  Wozniacki captures title in Malaysia

Former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki came from behind to defeat Alexandra Dulgheru in Sunday’s championship match at the Malaysian Open tennis event.

The top-seeded Danish star overcame the Romanian Dulgheru 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 in 1 hour, 50 minutes on the hardcourts at Bukit Resort. Wozniacki broke Dulgheru’s serve five times, while the Romanian loser settled for only two breaks on Day 7.

The two-time U.S. Open runner-up played Dulgheru just last week in Doha, with the Dane posting a second-round victory when Dulgheru retired in the second set after winning just one of 10 games played. Wozniacki also won their first meeting five years ago in straight sets at the French Open.

The 24-year-old Wozniacki improved to 23-16 in her career finals, including 1-1 this year. She lost to Venus Williams at a season-opening tournament in Auckland.

The 25-year-old Dulgheru played in a final for the first time in five years. She is now 2-1 in her WTA title matches.

Wozniacki’s first-place check is worth $43,000, while Dulgheru pocketed $21,400.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Harvick’s dominance in Sprint Cup continues with Las Vegas win

Defending Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick continues to be on a roll after winning Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 in dominating fashion at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Harvick started 18th and took the lead for the first time on lap 91 when then leader Jimmie Johnson, who won last weekend at Atlanta, had to pit unexpectedly for a loose wheel. Harvick ran in front for 142 of the 267 laps in this race, including the final 16. He crossed the finish line 1.64 seconds ahead of his closest competitor, Martin Truex Jr. It’s the first time he’s won at this 1.5-mile racetrack in 15 starts.

Las Vegas began a three-week West Coast swing for NASCAR’s premier series. Next weekend, the series will be at Phoenix, where Harvick has won four of the last five races, including a season-sweep last year. Fontana, California is the following week.

“It’s so cool to win here in Las Vegas and start this West Coast swing off this way,“ said Harvick, who scored his 29th career Sprint Cup win.

Harvick, the driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, claimed his sixth straight top-two finish in Sprint Cup, a streak that began last November at Texas. He finished second in both the Feb. 22 season-opening Daytona 500 and the March 1 race at Atlanta before his victory at Las Vegas.

Jeff Gordon was the last driver to finish either first or second in six consecutive races, accomplishing the feat in 1996.

With the win, Harvick is virtually guaranteed of making this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. He joins Joey Logano (Daytona) and Johnson (Atlanta) as those drivers who have all but assured themselves a spot in the playoffs.

“This whole Chase thing, there is a lot of strategy to get into it,“ Harvick said. “The best strategy is to go out and win races. I’m just really proud of everybody on our team.“

Harvick also grabbed the lead in the Sprint Cup point standings. He holds a nine-point advantage over Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished fourth.

Truex, who drives the No. 78 Chevrolet for Furniture Row Racing, a single-car team, had his best finish in a Sprint Cup race, second, since his most recent victory in the series in June 2013 at Sonoma, California (59 races ago). He drove for Michael Waltrip Racing at the time. Truex has finished in the top-10 in each of the first three races this season, including eighth at Daytona and sixth at Atlanta. He is now fourth in points (-16).

“It was fun day for us, a good weekend overall,“ Truex said. “I feel like we can keep chipping away at it, getting a little better each week and hopefully by the end of the year, we will have some wins under our belt.“

Ryan Newman finished third, while Denny Hamlin placed fifth.

A.J. Allmendinger, Brad Keselowski, who won last year’s race at Las Vegas, Kyle Larson, Matt Kenseth and Logano completed the top-10.

Johnson, the six-time Sprint Cup champion and record four-time race winner at Las Vegas, wound up finishing 41st. Shortly after he pitted for his loose wheel and went one lap down, Johnson blew a tire and slapped the wall in turn 1. He cut a tire and hit the wall again on lap 186, which put him in the garage briefly for repairs. Johnson had led 45 laps and was a strong contender to win this race.

“The first one, they said the bead blew on it,“ Johnson noted of his first tire blowing before he hit the turn 1 wall. “We don’t have any brake temp here, so I don’t know what could have caused that. That’s kind of a freak deal. The second one, it went soft. So there could have been some damage that caused it or some rub or something like that, and it went soft going into turn 3, and I hit the wall unfortunately. I’m disappointed. We certainly had an awesome race car.“

Jeff Gordon had won the pole for this 400-mile race on Friday but had to start from the rear of the field in a backup car. Gordon was involved in an accident with Danica Patrick in the final minutes of Saturday’s practice, damaging his primary vehicle. He worked his way through the field in the early going and had been in contention until Johnson’s second encounter with the wall. While trying to avoid Johnson, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Gordon hit the back of rookie Jeb Burton and sustained damage to his No. 24 Chevrolet.

“I was right behind Jeb getting ready to make a move on him,“ Gordon said. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to go inside or outside, but all of a sudden, he started checking up, and I thought he was doing it to let me go by him. I didn’t realize until right at that moment when my spotter said something to me that Jimmie was having a problem. I ran into the back of him. It ruined our day with this (car) and certainly ruined the front end. Our car just wouldn’t go down the straightaway, and it was real tight.“

Gordon finished one lap behind in 18th.

Brian Vickers placed 15th in his season debut. Vickers, the driver of the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, underwent open heart surgery three months ago and had to sit out Daytona and Atlanta.

“It was good, a top-15 considering where we were at three months ago,“ Vickers said. “I’ll take it.“



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►  Thurman beats Guerrero to retain belt

Keith Thurman won a unanimous 12-round decision over Robert Guerrero on Saturday night to retain his WBA world welterweight title.

The 26-year-old Thurman (25-0) knocked Guerrero (32-3-1) down in the ninth round and easily won the decision over the 31-year-old at MGM Grand.

The scorecards were 120-107, 118-108 and 118-109 in his favor.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  ‘15 Season Preview: ‘Caps shoot for deep playoff run

The Vancouver Whitecaps have a proud history dating back to 1974. The club won the 1979 NASL title, but their MLS era has seen the team become a middle-of-the-pack franchise.

In contrast to the big-spending clubs like New York City FC and Toronto FC, Vancouver has taken to low-key signings and embracing youth. It will be head coach Carl Robinson’s job to get the most out of that youth.

Entering their fifth season, Vancouver Whitecaps FC has made a pair of playoff appearances, but each time they have reached the postseason it ended rather quickly with a defeat in the knockout round.

Last season was no exception as the club reached the postseason, but was knocked out by FC Dallas via a questionable penalty decision, which should leave Robinson’s men with plenty of motivation for 2015.

The ‘Caps boast a strong defense with a nice combination of veteran savvy and youthful energy which posted a league-best 13 clean sheets last season. Jordan Harvey will line up as the left back, while former San Jose Earthquake Steven Beitashour will patrol the right back spot in his second season in the pacific northwest.

Harvey has logged 97 appearances for Vancouver since joining the club in a trade from Philadelphia Union in 2011. He can get forward and will the occasional goal or two.

Beitashour, a 2012 MLS All-Star has made 89 regular season and playoff appearances and is a vital piece of the back line. To balance the veteran presence, the central defense pairing of Diego Rodriguez and Kendall Waston has the potential to be one of the best in the Western Conference.

Pah Modou Kah came over from Cascadia rivals Portland Timbers and last season’s third-overall draft selection Christian Dean will provide some nice depth along the back line.

In the midfield, the ‘Caps boast a bevy of young, exciting talent, starting with attacking midfielder Pedro Morales.

Morales, 29, was signed as a designated player prior to the 2014 season, coming to MLS from La Liga side Malaga. He netted an impressive 10 goals and added 12 assists and was named the league’s Newcomer of the Year for 2014.

Out wide will be former Seattle Sounder Mauro Rosales with another youngster, Kekuta Manneh on the other wing. Rosales is the elder statesman of the midfield at 34 and has a wealth of experience in Europe and South America with River Plate, Newell’s Old Boys and Dutch side Ajax.

He went scoreless last season, but his expertise comes from providing assists and set-piece delivery as he racked up 11 assists last season between Vancouver and Chivas USA.

Manneh was selected fourth overall in the 2013 SuperDraft and had a nice sophomore season with four goals in 29 appearances. He’s still waiting for his breakout season and it could be this term. Manneh is quick and agile, able to beat his man one-on-one. He’ll look to take on a bigger role as Robinson’s young team grows throughout the season.

Also in the midfield are Canadian international Russell Teibert and Matias Laba. Laba made his way to Vancouver from Canadian rivals Toronto FC last season, while Teibert has been a consistent performer for Vancouver heading into his fifth season with the club.

“We have a good team,“ Morales said. “Much better than last year. And we have a good opportunity this year for a good season and maybe make it further in the playoffs.“

Leading the line, the ‘Caps brought in a new striker in Octavio Rivero, who comes to Vancouver from O’Higgins FC in the Chilean Premier Division as a Young Designated Player.

Rivero scored 10 goals in 18 appearances, and should reach at least that number this season. He’ll get plenty of service from his wingers, it’s just a matter of being able to finish the chances.

The pieces are there for the ‘Caps to have a breakout season and go deep into the playoffs. The only issue is the strength of the Western Conference. Even with Sporting Kansas City and Houston moving to the West, the ‘Caps should be a top-four seed.

ACQUISITIONS: Octavio Rivero (F), Diego Rodriguez (D), Pah Modou Kah (D), Ben McKendry (M), Deybi Flores (M).

LOSSES: Jay DeMerit (D), Carlyle Mitchell (D), Omar Salgado (F), Sebastian Fernandez (M), Andy O’Brien (D)

OUTLOOK: After a disappointing exit in the knockout round of the postseason last year, the Whitecaps will surely be motivated to avoid that round this time around. The defense is solid enough to offset the departure of captain Jay DeMerit, who retired, and the midfield is filled with exciting talent. Erik Hurtado has proven he can put the ball in the net, but Rivero is more of an unproved commodity. If Rivero can reach 15 goals, the ‘Caps could be set for a huge season. Robinson should steer his club high enough in the standings to avoid the dreaded knockout round.


►  ‘15 Season Preview: Continuity the key for Revs

The New England Revolution enter the 2015 season on the brink of a potential run of success that could mirror the great Revolution teams from the mid-2000’s.

A year ago at this time, the Revs were looked at as a young team that had a solid nucleus with the potential to become wildly successful. Fast-forward to today and the club will be hoping to make the lead from MLS Cup finalist to MLS Cup winner.

Beginning in August of last season, the Revs won nine of their final 11 regular season matches and went into the playoffs in exceptional form. They dispatched Columbus and the New York Red Bulls before falling to the Los Angeles Galaxy, 2-1, in extra time.

With the core of last year’s team still intact, manager Jay Heaps will be hoping that continuity wins the day in Foxborough. The club lost just two of the 18 players that suited up for MLS Cup final last December.

Defensively, the center-back pairing of Andrew Farrell and Jose Goncalves returns in full. Farrell, a former No. 1 overall SuperDraft selection, slid over from right back to the center spot and excelled, while Goncalves, who struggled early in the season as he worked through a bit of a contract dispute, rounded into form late on to lead the club deep into the playoffs.

The club lost veteran defender A.J. Soares, who left for Viking in the Norwegian top flight, but the Revs have plenty of quality to make up for his loss.

Chris Tierney will slot in at left back, while Kevin Alston will play on the other side. Tierney is a versatile player who can play in midfield as well and gets down the flank to join the attack. It was Tierney’s second-half goal that pulled the Revs level in MLS Cup last December, while Alston will provide solid defensive cover and can pick his spots to get forward.

The midfield is where the Revs’ bread is buttered. Scott Caldwell and Jermaine Jones will sit in defensive midfield roles, while the attacking midfield trio is where the club truly shines.

Jones, the U.S. national team star, arrived in New England in August last season and was a key contributor to the team’s success down the stretch, distributing from his defensive midfield role. With Jones on board for a full season, the Revs’ midfield should be firing on all cylinders from the outset.

Kelyn Rowe, a former third-overall draft selection in 2012, will slot into a left wing role. Rowe had his breakout season in 2013 when he netted seven goals in 33 games played. He followed it up with five goals and five assists last season.

The 23-year-old Washington native missed some time in 2014 due to various injuries, but when healthy he is a key piece of the core of the team—a young, hungry player who can get forward and unleashed some wicked strikes from distance.

The crux of the New England midfield is Lee Nguyen. Nguyen had a breakout season last year with 18 goals and five assists, which almost netted him the league MVP award, but the Texas native was trumped for the honor by Robbie Keane.

Nguyen made his living last year in the creative No. 10 role, and simply killed opposing teams by making late runs into the penalty area, usually resulting in tap-in goals.

Up top Charlie Davies returns to the fray, while Juan Agudelo returns from a year-plus sojourn in Europe.

Agudelo, 22, returned to Gillette Stadium on a four-year contract after leaving the Revolution to sign with Premier League side with Stoke City following the conclusion of the 2013 season.

“Juan is a player that we always knew that we would be interested in welcoming back to the club if the opportunity presented itself, and now it has,“ general manager Michael Burns said in a statement. “He is familiar with our club, our coaches, many of his teammates and the system that we play so we are confident that he will be able to fit right in and help us straight away.“

After making a spectacular late-season run into the postseason and a run to MLS Cup final, expectations will be high, and with almost all of the key players returning, it should be a good season in Foxborough.

ACQUISOITIONS: Juan Agudelo (F), Jeremy Hall (M), Sean Okoli (M).

LOSSES: Patrick Mullins (F), Tony Taylor (F), A.J. Soares (D)

OUTLOOK: Almost all of the pieces from last season’s MLS Cup finalists are back in the fold. Losing Soares hurts a bit, but Farrell and Goncalves are an excellent defensive pair. Having a full season of Jones in the midfield along with Nguyen, Rowe and Teal Bunbury should allow the Revs to maintain their potent attack. Agudelo should settle in quickly having been with New England before, while Davies should continue his positive form from last season. Head coach Jay Heaps has an excellent club this season. They should make the playoffs with ease and could be in the mix for a top seed in the East.


►  ‘15 Season Preview: RSL hopes to avoid another premature end

Perennial contender Real Salt Lake has made a habit of coming up short in recent years, but the club will hope to reverse that trend in the 2015 season.

Salt Lake has appeared in the postseason each of the past seven seasons, but the club has just one MLS Cup title to show for it when it defeated the Los Angeles Galaxy on penalties in 2009.

While the club suffered a disappointing loss to Sporting Kansas City in the 2013 final, the Claret and Cobalt, despite finishing the 2014 regular season in third place in the Western Conference, were nowhere near close to returning to championship match, losing to eventual victor L.A. by a 5-0 aggregate score in the opening round of the playoffs.

All told, it wasn’t a poor start to the Jeff Cassar era. Cassar, after all, did have big shoes to fill in replacing head coach Jason Kreis, who signed on to join New York City FC following the 2013 MLS Cup defeat.

Cassar’s second act, though, could be marginally more difficult after having to reshuffle the roster’s defense.

Salt Lake sent stud defender Nat Borchers to the Portland Timbers in exchange for allocation money while longtime servants Chris Wingert and Ned Grabavoy were snapped up by NYCFC in the MLS Expansion Draft, leaving Cassar with some holes to fill.

The club addressed those needs by landing Jamison Olave, who earned MLS Defender of the Year honors with RSL in 2010, through a trade with Red Bull New York.

Adding Demar Phillips and Elias Vasquez provides Cassar with further reinforcements, while the club may also feel tempted to throw highly-touted rookie defenders Phanuel Kavita and Boyd Okwuonu into the mix.

Salt Lake also added a bit of steel to the middle of the park by securing the services of holding midfielder Pecka, who joins the Rio Tinto outfit from NASL club Ft. Lauderdale Strikers.

The remainder of the club’s roster is unchanged from last season, save for a few minor pieces.

Javier Morales is RSL’s central creative force while Luke Mulholland will add a bit of industry to the proceedings.

Alvaro Saborio, Joao Plata, Olmes Garcia and Devon Sandoval will comprise the forward line, which was responsible for just 24 of the club’s 54 goals in the regular season last term.

And anchoring the team is Nick Rimando, one of the best goalkeepers in MLS.

ADDITIONS: Jamison Olave (D), Pecka (M), Demar Phillips (D), Elias Vasquez (D).

LOSSES: Nat Borchers (D), Robbie Findley (F), Ned Grabavoy (M), Chris Wingert (D).

OUTLOOK: Real Salt Lake should be nailed on favorites to secure a spot in the postseason, but where the club goes from there is very much open to interpretation. At present, RSL’s squad lacks a bit of punch necessary to truly compete for the title, but there is always the potential for a summer signing to act as a shot in the arm and elevate the club’s prospects.


►  ‘15 Season Preview: Portland hopes to rebound in 2015

The Portland Timbers enter the 2015 season with the aim of rebounding from a disappointing campaign.

Portland enjoyed a splendid 2013 season, finishing on 57 points to put the club atop the Western Conference and within two points of the MLS Supporters’ Shield.

A couple of key offseason moves appeared to put the Timbers in good stead for the 2014 season, but plethora of draws (13, in total) saw the club finish the regular season with 49 points, one point back of Vancouver Whitecaps FC for the final playoff berth in the West.

Portland’s goal for 2015 is clear: return to prominence by locking up a spot in the postseason.

In order to achieve this objective, the club has added some key reinforcements, both in defense and in attack.

First-choice goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts was selected by Orlando City SC in the MLS Expansion Draft, a move that forced Portland to sign Ghana international Adam Larsen Kwarasey.

The Timbers also moved to solidify the defensive unit in front of Kwarasey by signing longtime Real Salt Lake leader Nat Borchers.

Borchers, 33, will slot into the center of Portland’s defense alongside Designated Player Liam Ridgewell, who joined the Timbers following an accomplished spell at English Premier League side West Bromwich Albion.

Timbers head coach Caleb Porter seems pleased with how his projected defensive lineup is shaping up, labeling the trio of Borchers, Ridgewell and Kwarasey “the backbone of the team.“

“That makes me feel good going into each game knowing that I’ve got three very experienced guys there (in defense),“ Porter said.

Brazilian left-back Jeanderson has signed for the Timbers to round out a defensive stable that also consists of Jorge Villafana, Taylor Peay and Norberto Paparatto.

Portland’s midfield remains largely unchanged from last season, and Will Johnson will once again be the centerpiece. A box-to-box player, Johnson’s ability to create on the offensive end and disrupt the opposition will be instrumental to determining how far the Timbers can go.

Diego Valeri will hope to produce another MVP-calibre season, while Darlington Nagbe, Rodney Wallace and Diego Chara will look to add some dynamism in attack.

Portland relied heavily on Gaston Fernandez for key goals last term, and while others chipped in, Fanendo Adi will need to make greater contributions in order for the Timbers to be legitimate playoff contenders.

ADDITIONS: Darion Asprilla (F), Nat Borchers (D), Jeanderson (D), Adam Larsen Kwarasey (GK).

LOSSES: Donovan Ricketts (GK), Steve Zakuani (M).

OUTLOOK: All the peices are in place for Portland to make a second-ever appearance in the MLS postseason. Truth be told, the Timbers should have qualified last season, but a host of matches with dropped points proved to be the team’s undoing. Porter will not stand for that in 2015 as he cannot afford another season without playoff soccer.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Ajax edges Excelsior courtesy of El Ghazi’s goal

Anwar El Ghazi’s goal in the 83rd minute rescued a 1-0 win for Ajax over Excelsior at the Amsterdam Arena on Sunday.

The win keeps Ajax within 11 points of runaway leaders PSV Eindhoven, who notched a 3-0 win at Go Ahead Eagles on Saturday.

Excelsior had the best chance in the first half when a last-ditch header from Ricardo van Rhijn prevented Jordan Botaka from scoring at the back post.

Davy Klaassen was next to save the day for Ajax as he made a goal line clearance in the second half to deny Daan Bovenberg.

Richairo Zivkovic was introduced as a substitute in the second half for Ajax, and he played provider on the lone goal seven minutes from time as his cross was nodded home by El Ghazi to claim all three points for the hosts.

Feyenoord moved into third place thanks to a pair of second-half goals from Mitchell te Vrede in a 3-0 win over NAC, while AZ Alkmaar slipped to fourth after losing 6-2 at Utrecht, which got two goals from Sebastien Haller.

The other match on Sunday saw Groningen top Dordrecht, 2-0, with goals from Albert Rusnak and Tjaronn Chery.


►  Leverkusen topples Paderborn to reach top four

Bayer Leverkusen climbed to fourth place in the Bundesliga on Sunday as the club rallied for three goals over the final 20 minutes to claim a 3-0 win at Paderborn.

Kyriakos Papadopoulos struck the opening goal in the 73rd minute, and Son Heung-min added two more in the final six minutes of the game to secure all three points.

The win takes Leverkusen one point clear of both Augsburg and Schalke in the race for a Champions League spot, while Paderborn remains in the relegation places, two points from safety.

Despite controlling large portions of the match, Paderborn was unable to find the finishing touch, and Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno did well to deny the opener in the first half when he saved a curling free kick from Paderborn’s Alban Meha.

The hosts continued to create chances after the break, but after some more wasteful play in front of goal, the visitors snatched the lead through Papadopoulos, whose flicked header from Gonzalo Castro’s free kick found its way past goalkeeper Lukas Kruse.

Castro had a hand in the second goal as well with a headed cross that was finished off by Son, who added a third goal in stoppage time with a low shot that hit the bottom right corner of the net.

Sunday’s other Bundesliga fixture saw Cologne move five points clear of the relegation spots with a 4-2 victory over Eintracht.

Alexander Meier scored both goals for Eintracht, but Cologne managed to find the net three times in the span of 10 second-half minutes.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Cowboys re-sign OT Free

The Dallas Cowboys re-signed offensive tackle Doug Free to a three-year contract on Saturday, according to the team’s website.

Free, 31, was the veteran leader for one of the most improved offensive lines in the league last season. He has started 82 of the 92 games he has appeared in since the Cowboys selected him in the fourth round of the 2007 draft out of Northern Illinois.

ESPN.com reported the deal is worth $15 million, with $6 million guaranteed.


►  Report: Packers bring back Cobb

The Green Bay Packers and wide receiver Randall Cobb have reportedly agreed to a four-year contract extension.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Cobb turned down several other offers and ended up signing a $40 million pact with $17 million of it guaranteed.

Cobb, 24, was regarded as one of the top players primed to hit free agency after a career season in which he caught 91 passes for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns over 16 games.

The Kentucky product has compiled 227 receptions for 3,049 yards and 25 scores in 52 games spanning four seasons with the Packers.


►  Colts agree to terms with Herremans

The Indianapolis Colts agreed to a deal with guard Todd Herremans on Sunday.

Herremans was recently released by the Eagles after spending his first 10 seasons in Philadelphia. He started eight games last season before a biceps injury forced him on season-ending injured reserve in November.

The Eagles selected Herremans out of Saginaw Valley State with a fourth-round pick in the 2005 draft. He played four different positions during his Philadelphia tenure, starting 124-of-127 regular season games.


►  Report: McCoy agrees to 5-year, $40 million deal with Bills

The Buffalo Bills are set to give former NFL rushing champion LeSean McCoy the big payday he wanted.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Sunday that McCoy and the Bills have agreed to a new five-year contract that will start once the star running back is officially traded to Buffalo by the Eagles.

Philadelphia will get linebacker Kiko Alonso in the trade that was reported last week. The deal cannot be formally completed or announced until the 2015 league season begins Tuesday at 4 PM ET.

McCoy had three years worth $25 million remaining in his existing deal with only $1 million of his $10.25 salary for 2015 guaranteed. With his new contract, the first year is guaranteed for $16 million and he will get a total of $26.5 million guaranteed of $40 million overall.

The Bills possibly wanted to keep McCoy happy after rumors surfaced that he was “unhappy” with his new destination.

McCoy, 26, was explosive in Chip Kelly’s hurry-up offense, rushing for 2,926 yards and 14 touchdowns with 80 receptions for 694 yards and two scores over the past two seasons.

He led the NFL in both rushing yards and yards from scrimmage in 2013 but saw a dropoff in both categories last season.

McCoy set the Eagles’ all-time career rushing record during the 2014 season. He gained 6,792 yards and scored 44 touchdowns on 1,461 carries in 90 games for the franchise, averaging 4.6 yards per carry.


►  Report: Suh to sign with Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins have reportedly won the Ndamukong Suh sweepstakes.

Suh will sign with the Dolphins when free agency opens Tuesday, according to ESPN, for a deal that’s worth as much as $114 million with about $60 million guaranteed. He will be paid $60 million in the first three years of a six-year deal.

The deal would make Suh the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL. J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans set the market in 2014 when he signed a six-year, $100 million contract with $51.8 million in guaranteed money.

Suh recorded 239 tackles, 36 sacks and one interception over five seasons with the Lions. A four-time Pro Bowl selection, Suh is known for his aggressive style of play.

The 28-year-old Suh served a two-game suspension in 2011 after he stomped on the arm of then-Packers offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith. He has also received multiple fines throughout his career.

The Dolphins were 24th against the run in 2014. The Lions, on the other hand, finished first against the run.


►  Report: RB Chris Johnson wounded in drive-by shooting

Free agent running back Chris Johnson was shot in the shoulder early Sunday morning in a drive-by shooting that left one man dead and another man injured, according to multiple reports.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that the shooting took place at about 4:09 AM at the intersection of Southland Boulevard and Orange Blossom Trail, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

An unknown vehicle pulled up at a red light beside the Jeep Johnson was riding in and opened fire, deputies said. Johnson was wounded in the shoulder, while the driver was killed and another victim was wounded in the shoulder, hand and leg.

Johnson and the other victim are listed in stable condition. The investigation into the case is ongoing.

The 29-year-old Johnson, who attended Olympia High School in Orlando, was recently released by the New York Jets after the organization did not pick up his contract option.


►  Report: Eagles to sign RB Gore

Veteran running back Frank Gore has reportedly agreed to sign a contract with the Philadelphia Eagles when free agency begins on Tuesday.

According to multiple reports, Gore has informed those around him that he plans to sign with Philadelphia, which traded star running back LeSean McCoy to Buffalo last week.

Gore, who will turn 32 before the 2015-16 season, has spent his entire 10-year career with the San Francisco 49ers. The five-time Pro Bowler has accumulated 11,073 rush yards and 64 touchdowns in 148 career games.

Despite his age, Gore’s production hasn’t diminished. He appeared in all 16 games last season, rushing for 1,106 yards and four touchdowns on 255 carries. He’s gone over 1,000 rushing yards in four straight seasons.

The Gilmer Free Press


References
ABC - American Broadcasting Company
CBS - Columbia Broadcast System
FOX - Fox Entertainment Group
NBC - National Broadcasting Company
JIP - Joined in Progress
DSS - DIRECTV
TSN - Sports Network (Canada)
SNET/SN - Rogers SportsNet (Canada)
RDS - Reseau des sports
MSG - Madison Square Garden Network
TNT - Turner Network Television
TBS - Turner Broadcasting System
SNY - SportsNet New York
CBSSN - CBS - College Sports Network
CSN - Comcast SportsNet
TCN - The Comcast Network
NBCSN - NBC Sports Network
NESN - New England Sports Network
MASN - Mid-Atlantic Sports Network
ROOT - Root Sports (Pittsburgh, Northwest, Rocky Mountain)
CST - Cox Sports Television
FCS - FOX College Sports
FS - FOX Sports Regional
RSN - Regional Sports Networks
CPTV - Connecticut Public Broadcasting
TVG - Horse Racing Channel
FS1 - FOX Sports 1
TWC - Time Warner Cable Sports Channel
* - If Necessary


MONDAY, MARCH 09, 2015
Major League Baseball - Spring Training
Atlanta vs. Washington, 1:05 PM - MASN, MLB Network
Tampa Bay vs. NY Yankees, 1:05 PM - YES
Miami vs. NY Mets, 1:10 PM - SNY
Cleveland vs. Seattle, 4:05 PM - MLB Network
Los Angeles vs. San Francisco, 4:05 PM - SportsNet LA
National Basketball Association
Washington at Charlotte, 7:00 PM - CSN-DC, SportSouth, DSS
Sacramento at Atlanta, 7:30 PM - CSN-California, SportSouth, DSS
Boston at Miami, 7:30 PM - CSN-New England, SunSports, DSS
Memphis at Chicago, 8:00 PM - SportSouth, CSN-Chicago, NBA TV, DSS
New Orleans at Milwaukee, 8:00 PM - FS-New Orleans, Wisconsin, DSS
New York at Denver, 9:00 PM - MSG, Altitude, DSS
Golden State at Phoenix, 10:00 PM - CSN-Bay, FS-Arizona, DSS
Minnesota at LA Clippers, 10:30 PM - FS-North, Prime Ticket, DSS
National Hockey League
Edmonton at Detroit, 7:30 PM - SNET-West, FS-Detroit, DSS
NY Islanders at Toronto, 7:30 PM - MSG+, SNET-Ontario, DSS
Anaheim at Vancouver, 10:00 PM - FS-West, SNET-Pacific, DSS
Nashville at Arizona, 10:00 PM - FS-Tennessee, Arizona+, DSS
Pittsburgh at San Jose, 10:00 PM - ROOT-Pittsburgh, NBCSN
College Basketball
CAA Championship, 7:00 PM - NBCSN
Southern Championship, 7:00 PM - ESPN 2
Summit League Tournament, 7:00 PM - MidcoSN, ESPN3.com
West Coast Tournament, 9:00 PM - ESPN
MAAC Championship, 9:00 PM - ESPN 2
Summit League Tournament, 9:00 PM - MidcoSN, ESPN3.com
West Coast Touranment, 11:30 PM - ESPN 2
Women’s College Basketball
Summit League Tournament, 1:00 PM - MidcoSN, ESPN3.com
BYU vs. Gonzaga, 3:00 PM - BYUtv, TheW.tv
Summit League Tournament, 3:30 PM - MidcoSN, ESPN3.com
MAAC Championship, 4:30 PM - ESPN U
San Francisco vs. San Diego, 5:30 PM - BYUtv, TheW.tv
Big East Tournament, 6:30 PM - FS1
AAC Championship, 7:00 PM - ESPN
Navy at American, 7:00 PM - Patriot League Network
Lehigh at Army, 7:00 PM - Patriot League Network
Big East Tournament, 9:00 PM - FS2
Big 12 Championship, 9:00 PM - FS1
International Soccer
SS Lazio vs. ACF Fiorentina, 12:55 PM - beIN Sports
Brazil vs. Germany (Women’s Soccer), 1:30 PM - FS1
Juventus FC vs. US Sassuolo Calcio, 2:55 PM - beIN Sports
Manchester United vs. Arsenal, 3:30 PM - FS1

Sports News   150308

The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  High Schools Girls Basketball Regional Game Results

CLASS AAA REGION 1

Parkersburg South 94, John Marshall 43

Morgantown 63, Parkersburg 24

CLASS AAA REGION 2

Martinsburg 55, Hampshire 46

Buckhannon-Upshur 57, Jefferson 49

CLASS AAA REGION 3

South Charleston 68, Princeton 39

Greenbrier East 76, Capital 44

CLASS AAA REGION 4

Huntington 58, St. Albans 55

Spring Valley 73, Hurricane 55

 

CLASS AA REGION 1

Fairmont Senior 79, Ritchie County 53

North Marion 86, Ravenswood 80

CLASS AA REGION 2

Bridgeport 57, Keyser 40

Lincoln 65, Frankfort 62

CLASS AA REGION 3

Wyoming East 59, PikeView 41

Bluefield 74, Summers County 72

CLASS AA REGION 4

Clay County 66, Scott 56

Sissonville 47, Mingo Central 30

 

CLASS A REGION 1

Wheeling Central 69, Trinity 39

St. Marys 74, Magnolia 58

CLASS A REGION 2

Tucker County 64, Pendleton County 44

Notre Dame at Pocahontas County — POSTPONED TO SATURDAY

CLASS A REGION 3

Tug Valley 57, Midland Trail 39

Fayetteville 56, Sherman 49

CLASS A REGION 4

Charleston Catholic 51, Williamstown 35

St. Joseph Central 59, Gilmer County 42


►  High Schools Boys Basketball Sectional Game Results

CLASS AAA REGION 1, SECTION 1

Friday:

No. 1 Parkersburg South 88, No. 4 Brooke 61

No. 3 Parkersburg 51, No. 2 Wheeling Park 48

Saturday:

Parkersburg South 66, Parkersburg 50

CLASS AAA REGION 1 SECTION 2

Wednesday:

No. 1 Morgantown 91, No. 4 John Marshall 37

No. 2 Preston 50, No. 3 University 42

Saturday:

Morgantown 64, Preston 46

CLASS AAA REGION 2 SECTION 1

Monday:

No. 4 Spring Mills 67, No. 5 Hedgesville 57

No. 3 Musselman 65, No. 6 Washington 48

Wednesday:

No. 1 Martinsburg 70, No. 4 Spring Mills 54

No. 3 Musselman 74, No. 2 Jefferson 69 (OT)

Saturday:

Martinsburg 59, Musselman 43

CLASS AAA REGION 2 SECTION 2

Wednesday:

No. 1 Hampshire 56, No. 4 Elkins 46

No. 2 Lewis County 52, No. 3 Buckhannon-Upshur 33

Saturday:

Hampshire 41, Lewis County 37

CLASS AAA REGION 3 SECTION 1

Monday:

No. 4 Riverside 52, No. 5 Ripley 51

Friday:

No. 3 George Washington 56, No. 2 South Charleston 48

No. 1 Capital 65, No. 4 Riverside 51

Saturday:

Capital 46, George Washington 42

CLASS AAA REGION 3 SECTION 2

Monday:

No. 4 Shady Spring 73, No. 5 Oak Hill 57

Friday:

No. 2 Woodrow Wilson 62, No. 3 Princeton 58

No. 1 Greenbrier East 60, No. 4 Shady Spring 53

Championship:

Woodrow Wilson 77, Greenbrier East 66

CLASS AAA REGION 4 SECTION 1

Monday:

No. 4 Nitro 73, No. 5 Point Pleasant 59

Wednesday:

No. 3 St. Albans 62, No. 2 Winfield 56

No. 1 Hurricane 71, No. 4 Nitro 30

Saturday:

Hurricane 90, St. Albans 41

CLASS AAA REGION 4 SECTION 2

(From Cabell Midland)

Monday:

No. 4 Lincoln County 60, No. 5 Cabell Midland 52

Saturday:

No. 3 Spring Valley 53, No. 2 Logan 50

No. 1 Huntington 81, No. 4 Lincoln County 37

Championship:

Spring Valley vs. Huntington

 

CLASS AA REGION 1 SECTION 1

Saturday:

No. 5 Weir 75, No. 4 North Marion 54

Tuesday:

No. 2 Oak Glen 76, No. 3 East Fairmont 71 (3OT)

No. 1 Fairmont Senior 76, No. 4 Weir 42

Saturday:

Fairmont Senior 58, Oak Glen 40

CLASS AA REGION 1 SECTION 2

Monday:

No. 4 Ritchie County 55, No. 5 Braxton County 53

Tuesday:

No. 1 Ravenswood 63, No. 4 Ritchie County 32

No. 2 Webster County 69, No. 3 Roane County 64 (OT)

Saturday:

Ravenswood 64, Webster County 44

CLASS AA REGION 2 SECTION 1

Tuesday:

No. 1 Keyser 67, No. 4 Petersburg 54

No. 2 Frankfort 61, No. 3 Berkeley Springs 59

Saturday:

Frankfort 79, Keyser 63

CLASS AA REGION 2 SECTION 2

Saturday:

No. 3 Lincoln 66, No. 6 Liberty (Harrison) 33

No. 4 Grafton 72, No. 5 Philip Barbour 55

Tuesday:

No. 1 Bridgeport 66, No. 4 Grafton 57

No. 2 Robert C. Byrd 61, No. 3 Lincoln 41

Saturday:

Bridgeport 59, Robert C. Byrd 57

CLASS AA REGION 3 SECTION 1

Friday (from Westside):

No. 4 Summers County 57, No. 5 Independence 56 (OT)

Tuesday (from Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center):

No. 2 Wyoming East 62, No. 3 Liberty-Raleigh 58

No. 1 Westside 85, No. 4 Summers County 57

Saturday:

Westside 59, Wyoming East 40

CLASS AA REGION 3 SECTION 2

Saturday:

No. 5 James Monroe 48, No. 4 River View 39

Tuesday (from Princeton):

No. 1 Bluefield 88, No. 5 James Monroe 43

No. 2 PikeView 65, No. 3 Mount View 37

Saturday:

Bluefield 67, PikeView 65

CLASS AA REGION 4 SECTION 1

Saturday:

No. 4 Nicholas County 57, No. 5 Clay County 47

Tuesday:

No. 2 Sissonville 46, No. 3 Herbert Hoover 44

No. 1 Poca 67, No. 4 Nicholas County 21

Saturday:

Poca 75, Sissonville 37

CLASS AA REGION 4 SECTION 2

(from Willie Akers Arena, Logan)

Saturday:

No. 4 Wayne 61, No. 5 Tolsia 53

Monday:

No. 4 Wayne 46, No. 1 Chapmanville 43

No. 3 Mingo Central 58, No. 2 Scott 42

Saturday:

No. 3 Mingo Central 66, No. 4 Wayne 51

 

CLASS A REGION 1 SECTION 1

(From Moundsville Fieldhouse)

Saturday:

No. 4 Cameron 72, No. 5 Madonna 61

No. 3 Bishop Donahue 83, No. 6 Hundred 41

Friday:

No. 2 Magnolia 66, No. 3 Bishop Donahue 57

No. 1 Wheeling Central 65, No. 4 Cameron 50

Saturday:

Magnolia 80, Wheeling Central 74

CLASS A REGION 1 SECTION 2

Saturday:

No. 4 Valley-Wetzel 56, No. 5 Tyler Consolidated 46

No. 3 Trinity 77, No. 6 Clay-Battelle 50

Saturday (from Doddridge County):

No. 2 Paden City 60, No. 3 Trinity 56

No. 1 St. Marys 83, No. 4 Valley Wetzel 48

Monday (from Doddridge County HS):

St. Marys vs. Paden City

CLASS A REGION 2 SECTION 1

Saturday:

No. 4 Tygarts Valley 52, No. 5 Union 46

No. 3 Harman 55, No. 6 South Harrison 41

Wednesday (from Elkins):

No. 1 Notre Dame 79, No. 4 Tygarts Valley 42

No. 2 Tucker County 97, No. 3 Harman 49

Saturday:

Notre Dame 54, Tucker County 48

CLASS A REGION 2 SECTION 2

Saturday:

No. 4 East Hardy 68, No. 5 Paw Paw 33

Tuesday:

No. 1 Moorefield 61, No. 4 East Hardy 37

No. 2 Pocahontas County 59, No. 3 Pendleton County 58

Saturday:

Moorefield 60, Pocahontas County 58

CLASS A REGION 3 SECTION 1

Saturday:

No. 4 Sherman 79, No. 5 Van 63

No. 3 Man 83, No. 6 Montcalm 31

Tuesday:

No. 1 Tug Valley 75, No. 4 Sherman 49

No. 2 Greater Beckley Christian 77, No. 3 Man 52

Saturday:

Tug Valley 68, Greater Beckley Christian 53

CLASS A REGION 3 SECTION 2

(from Oak Hill High School)

Monday:

No. 5 Fayetteville 65, No. 4 Midland Trail 50

No. 3 Meadow Bridge 58, No. 6 Greenbrier West 47

Wednesday:

No. 1 Valley Fayette 51, No. 5 Fayetteville 45

No. 2 Richwood 57, No. 3 Meadow Bridge 51

Friday:

Valley Fayette 71, Richwood 66

CLASS A REGION 4 SECTION 1

Saturday:

No. 5 Parkersburg Catholic 65, No. 4 Wirt County 62 (OT)

No. 6 Calhoun County 61, No. 3 Doddridge County 49

Tuesday:

No. 1 Williamstown 52, No. 5 Parkersburg Catholic 41

No. 2 Gilmer County 68, No. 6 Calhoun County 26

Saturday:

Gilmer County 50, Williamstown 37

CLASS A REGION 4 SECTION 2

Monday:

No. 4 Buffalo 66, No. 5 Hannan 47

Saturday (from Charleston Catholic Athletic Complex):

No. 1 Charleston Catholic 58, No. 4 Buffalo 37

No. 2 St. Joseph Central 71, No. 3 Wahama 69

Championship:

Charleston Catholic vs. St. Joseph Central


►  High Schools Girls Basketball Sectional Game Results

CLASS AAA REGION 1, SECTION 1

Parkersburg 51, Wheeling Park 31

Parkersburg South 81, Brooke 27

FINAL: Parkersburg South 59, Parkersburg 46

CLASS AAA REGION 1, SECTION 2

Morgantown 76, University 25

John Marshall 55, Preston 53

FINAL: Morgantown 79, John Marshall 33

CLASS AAA REGION 2, SECTION 1

Musselman 57, Washington 47

Spring Mills 81, Hedgesville 42

Martinsburg 70, Musselman 52

Jefferson 58, Spring Mills 51

FINAL: Martinsburg 43, Jefferson 41

CLASS AAA REGION 2, SECTION 2

Buckhannon-Upshur 54, Elkins 29

Hampshire 56, Lewis County 54

FINAL: Buckhannon-Upshur 39, Hampshire 38

CLASS AAA REGION 3, SECTION 1

Ripley 79, Riverside 34

Capital 56, George Washington 50

South Charleston 87, Ripley 37

FINAL: South Charleston 52, Capital 33

CLASS AAA REGION 3, SECTION 2

Oak Hill 56, Shady Spring 27

Princeton 62, Woodrow Wilson 53

Greenbrier East 81, Oak Hill 32

FINAL: Greenbrier East 59, Princeton 39

CLASS AAA REGION 4, SECTION 1

Winfield 58, Point Pleasant 25

St. Albans 72, Winfield 31

Hurricane 57, Nitro 50

FINAL: St. Albans 49, Hurricane 43

CLASS AAA REGION 4, SECTION 2

Cabell Midland 54, Lincoln County 49

Huntington 63, Cabell Midland 33

Spring Valley 83, Logan 67

FINAL: Spring Valley 75, Huntington 51

 

CLASS AA REGION 1, SECTION 1

East Fairmont 55, Weir 30

Fairmont Senior 77, East Fairmont 32

North Marion 99, Oak Glen 66

FINAL: Fairmont Senior 78, North Marion 52

CLASS AA REGION 1, SECTION 2

Braxton County 51, Webster County 45

Ravenswood 65, Braxton County 42

Ritchie County 41, Roane County 38 (OT)

FINAL: Ravenswood 63, Ritchie County 52

CLASS AA REGION 2, SECTION 1

Keyser 75, Berkeley Springs 29

Frankfort 59, Petersburg 38

FINAL: Keyser 56, Frankfort 42

CLASS AA REGION 2, SECTION 2

Robert C. Byrd 35, Liberty Harrison 20

Grafton 50, Philip Barbour 42

Bridgeport 41, Robert C. Byrd 24

Lincoln 57, Grafton 54, OT

FINAL: Lincoln 50, Bridgeport 31

CLASS AA REGION 3, SECTION 1

Liberty Raleigh 50, Independence 29

Summers County 94, Westside 57

Thursday: Wyoming East 106, Liberty Raleigh 43

FINAL: Wyoming East 83, Summers County 67

CLASS AA REGION 3, SECTION 2

River View 51, Mount View 43

PikeView 77, River View 31

Bluefield 64, James Monroe 59

FINAL: Bluefield 46, PikeView 43

CLASS AA REGION 4, SECTION 1

Nicholas County 35, Poca 28

Sissonville 56, Herbert Hoover 41

Clay County 58, Nicholas County 28

FINAL: Clay County 52, Sissonville 48

CLASS AA REGION 4, SECTION 2

Scott 43, Wayne 41Mingo Central 56, Tolsia 51

Scott 43, Chapmanville 30

FINAL: Mingo Central 61, Scott 45

 

CLASS A REGION 1, SECTION 1

Cameron 53, Bishop Donahue 51

Madonna 70, Hundred 17

Magnolia 47, Madonna 44

Wheeling Central 53, Cameron 31

FINAL: Wheeling Central 57, Magnolia 40

CLASS A REGION 1, SECTION 2

Valley Wetzel 58, Tyler Consolidated 50

Trinity 74, Paden City 25

Trinity 60, Clay-Battelle 47

St. Marys 64, Valley Wetzel 50

FINAL: St. Marys 79, Trinity 74 (OT)

CLASS A REGION 2, SECTION 1

Tygarts Valley 60, Harman 33

Union 51, South Harrison 26

Tucker County 89, Tygarts Valley 13

Notre Dame 47, Union 27

FINAL: Tucker County 54, Notre Dame 28

CLASS A REGION 2, SECTION 2

Moorefield 59, Paw Paw 48

Pendleton County 64, East Hardy 58

Pocahontas County 74, Moorefield 21

FINAL: Pocahontas County 74, Pendleton County 40

CLASS A REGION 3, SECTION 1

Greater Beckley Christian 71, Van 32

Man 37, Montcalm 34

Sherman 50, Greater Beckley Christian 43

Tug Valley 46, Man 28

FINAL: Tug Valley 56, Sherman 46

CLASS A REGION 3, SECTION 2

Meadow Bridge 43, Valley Fayette 32

Richwood 60, Greenbrier West 39

Fayetteville 59, Richwood 49

Midland Trail 59, Meadow Bridge 54 (OT)

FINAL: Fayetteville 65, Midland Trail 47

CLASS A REGION 4, SECTION 1

Williamstown 57, Wirt County 54

Gilmer County 60, Parkersburg Catholic 49

FINAL: Williamstown 67, Gilmer County 54

CLASS A REGION 4, SECTION 2

Buffalo 56, Wahama 30

St. Joseph 85, Buffalo 31

Charleston Catholic 68, Hannan 25

FINAL: St. Joseph Central 62, Charleston Catholic 28



The Gilmer Free Press

►  MEC Men’s Basketball Semifinal Wrap-Up

#5 Glenville State 83, #1 West Liberty 68

Fifth-seeded Glenville State turned in arguably its best all-around performance of the season and knocked off top-seeded and No. 4 ranked West Liberty, 83-68, here Saturday evening in the semifinals of the Mountain East Conference Basketball Tournament at the Charleston Civic Center.

The victory halted a 10-game losing streak for the Pioneers against the Hilltoppers dating back to 2009. It also improved Glenville to 21-10 overall and earns the Pioneers a berth in Sunday’s conference tournament title game at 3:30 p.m.

“I’m very proud of these guys,“ said GSC coach Stephen Dye. “We came in tonight with a game plan we felt could work and they executed it perfectly.

“One thing we knew we had to do was rebound the ball and we did that. We out-rebounded them by three. We also were able to get stops and take care of the basketball. We held them to 68 points. With the way West Liberty can score that’s impressive. Our guys fought hard and played with a lot of heart, passion and energy.“

Indeed the Pioneers did. Glenville spread the floor against West Liberty, was patient with the ball and attacked the rim from all angles to near-perfection. The Pioneers were 30-of-56 from the field (53.6 percent), including a 17-of-30 (56.7 percent) performance in the second half and scored 50 of their 83 points in the paint – 30 of which came in the second half.

“Our guards, Reggie Williams and Sedric Nady, knew they had to be strong with the ball,“ said the Pioneers’ Donte Morales, who finished with 14 points, six rebounds and four assists. “Really we all did. We all were focused. We knew that a bump was going to come from them at some point, we took it and capitalized on every driving lane we got.“

Williams led Glenville with 21 points, 14 of which came in the second half. The balanced Pioneers also got 18 points and eight rebounds from Brett Morris and 17 points from Nady.

The loss snapped a 12-game winning streak for West Liberty and dropped the Hilltoppers to 26-3 on the year. West Liberty, however, will receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional which will get under way next weekend.

Against Glenville, the Hilltoppers, who shoot over 51 percent from the field as a team for the season, endured their worst shooting performance of the year. West Liberty was just 26-of-69 from the floor (37.7 percent), including a 6-of-25 showing (24.0 percent) from 3-point range.

“No one needs to tell me when we’re beaten pretty bad and we were beaten pretty bad today in a lot of different areas,“ said West Liberty coach Jim Crutchfield, who won’t be taking his team to the championship game of a league tournament for the first time since 2009. “We were out-worked on loose balls, they played smarter and better defense than we did and that’s to their credit. I think they played with a little more energy than we did and there’s no excuse for that.

“It was not a good day to be a Hilltopper, but the bottom line for us is our season is not over. We will have the chance to play again in the regional.“

Glenville took the lead late in the first half and never relinquished it. The Pioneers led 35-28 at the break and outscored West Liberty 21-11 in the first 9:26 of the second half to extend their margin to 17. After that West Liberty never got any closer than 12.

“Our program is built off of intensity and we certainly didn’t play with enough intensity tonight,“ said West Liberty’s C.J. Hester, who finished with six points and nine rebounds. “We didn’t give maximum effort and that’s our fault. We have no excuse for that.“

Only two Hilltoppers reached double figures in the scoring column. Guards Devin Hoehn and Joe Lococo finished with 15 and 14 points respectively. Seger Bonifant, the MEC’s Player of the Year, who scored 44 points in a victory over the Pioneers earlier this season was held to a season-low four points. His previous low scoring total for the season was 10 points.


#2 Fairmont State 73, #6 Wheeling Jesuit 63

Fairmont State advanced to the Mountain East Conference championship game with a 73-63 win over Wheeling Jesuit on Saturday afternoon.

The Falcons (21-9) will take on rival Glenville State at 3:30 p.m. Fans can follow all of the action live here.

Fairmont State used a balanced attack with Nick Harney and Jamel Morris each scoring 16 points apiece. Caleb Davis was big for FSU scoring 15 points off the bench, including 10 key points in a six-minute stretch that helped Fairmont State hold off a WJU run.

“I knew coming into the game that they were going to sag off me, so when I threw it in to Nick (Harney), so it way my thought to cut to the basket and stay aggressive,“ Davis said.

Wheeling Jesuit (21-10) had a 39-28 edge on the glass, with 15 of those coming on the offensive end. However, the Cardinals shot 36 percent from the field and just 13 percent from three-point range. Pat Moseh led WJU with 20 points and Haywood Highsmith scored 13 points to go with 12 rebounds.

“This was a very, very hard fought game, a very physical game,“ said head coach Jerrod Calhoun. “Our game plan was to take away the three—we did a tremendous job. I love my team right now and I think we’re very dangerous.“

“The two keys in this game was holding them to 2-for 15 from three-point, and Caleb’s play down the stretch,“ Harney said. “Caleb just gave us a lot of relief because it was tough for us to get isolation plays, so when Caleb has it going it makes us so much easier for everyone else.“


►  MEC Women’s Basketball Tournament Semifinal Recap‏

#1 West Liberty 70, #4 Wheeling Jesuit 68 (OT)

Top-seeded West Liberty and fourth-seeded Wheeling Jesuit split their regular-season meetings.

Thus, it was only fitting that when the two teams squared off Saturday in the semifinals of the Mountain East Conference Basketball Tournament at the Charleston Civic Center that it took overtime to determine a winner.

In the end, West Liberty made one more play than Wheeling and emerged with a thrilling 70-68 victory earning the Hilltoppers the right to advance toSunday’s title game at 1 PM

“Give all of the credit to the kids,“ said West Liberty coach Lynn Ullom, whose team improved to 22-8 with the victory. “We had a lead, we lost a lead, we faced adversity and struggled at the end of regulation. We could’ve hung our heads and quit, but we didn’t. We found a way to make enough plays at the end of the game to advance.

“I have to give Wheeling Jesuit credit too. They’re unbelievably well coached, they’re disciplined and they try really, really hard.“

West Liberty jumped on WJU early Saturday draining four of its first five 3-point field goals attempts and opening a 12-0 advantage less than three minutes into the game. For the rest of the contest Wheeling had to fight its way back. The Cardinals finally pulled even with the Hilltoppers when guard Jaila Bryant hit a contested 12-foot jumper from the wing to knot the score at 59 with 24.9 seconds left in regulation.

On the last possession of regulation West Liberty spread the floor and let point guard Kailee Howe drive the lane and get off an eight-foot jumper which didn’t fall and Wheeling’s Jaana Motton cleared the rebound as time expired. Motton finished with 16 points and a game-high 17 rebounds for the Cardinals. It was her fifth double-double performance of the season.

In overtime West Liberty senior guard Hillary Southworth set the tone both early and late for her team. She hit a driving layup, was fouled and converted the three-point play seven seconds into the extra five minutes.

“Being a senior you kind of see that flash of your career ending and think it all could end right now if you don’t do something,“ said Southworth, who led West Liberty with 18 points. “I haven’t been one to drive to the basket a lot this season. I’ve had three knee injuries and they’ve all been a result of driving to the rim, so I’ve been kind of hesitant to do that. But, at that point you just have to do what you have to do. I wasn’t going to lose to Wheeling Jesuit. It was all or nothing.“

Later, clinging to a one-point 67-66 lead, West Liberty’s Kierra Simpson made a huge play for her team when, from behind, she blocked what appeared to be an open layup attempt by Bryant with 29 seconds remaining and then saved the rebound in to a teammate who got the ball to Howe who found Southworth wide open for a layup to make it 69-66 with 20 seconds to play.

At the other end Bryant, who led all scorers with 22 points, hit a driving layup to make it 69-68 with 8.9 seconds left. West Liberty then did a good job of keeping the ball away from Wheeling which was finally able to foul Southworth with just 3.8 seconds remaining. She made one of two free throws setting the stage for Bryant to get a decent look at a potential game-winning 3-pointer that hit the backboard and bounded off as time expired.

“I knew they were going to try to do something to defend me,“ said Bryant, who also grabbed eight rebounds and recorded five steals in the loss. “They ended up coming out and trapping me so I knew in that amount of time that I couldn’t get to the rim. I knew I was going to have to get a shot up from three. I got it there. It just didn’t go in.“

Wheeling, which also got 12 points and seven rebounds from Kylie Frizell, finished its season with a 19-9 record. The Cardinals won 11 of their last 15 games.

“The 19 wins is the most we’ve had in 10 years and we had a shot today to win it at the end,“ said Wheeling coach Debbie Buff, who just completed her fourth season at the school. “This is emotional for me. I really wanted it for these girls. If Jaila makes that shot at the end we win, but if Jaila didn’t do what she did the whole game for us we never would’ve been in the position that we were to get the win. I’m really, really proud of this team. Our effort was there from start to finish.

“West Liberty is an excellent team. They have a lot of seniors and veterans who have been in these positions in the past. We’re young. We’ll be back next year.“

The Hilltoppers, who won for the 10th time in 11 games, also got 15 points from Liz Flowers and 14 points, seven rebounds and seven assists from Howe. Simpson finished with just seven points, but pulled down a team-high six rebounds and blocked a game-high five shots.


#6 Notre Dame 75, #2 Shepherd 65

Notre Dame College became the first-ever sixth seed to reach the finals of the Mountain East Conference Basketball Tournament when the Falcons knocked off second-seeded Shepherd University, 75-65, in semifinal-round action here Saturday afternoon at the Charleston Civic Center.

The victory was the sixth in a row for Notre Dame which improved to 20-11. It also sets up a meeting for the Falcons with top-seeded West Liberty in the tournament’s championship game Sunday afternoon at 1 PM

The Hilltoppers eliminated fourth-seeded Wheeling Jesuit Saturday, 70-68, in overtime. West Liberty and Notre Dame split their regular-season series with both teams winning on their home courts.

To date in the MEC Tournament the Falcons have eliminated 11th-seeded West Virginia Wesleyan, third-seeded Charleston and second-seeded Shepherd.

Against the Rams, a Martha Nagbe 3-pointer at the 18:11 mark of the second half gave her team the lead for good. Nagbe, the MEC’s Player of the Year, was the catalyst for the Falcons being able to hold off Shepherd in the second half and record the victory. After picking up her second foul and playing just 10 minutes in the opening half, Nagbe scored 14 of her team-high 16 points in the final 20 minutes, grabbed five of her team-high eight rebounds in the second half, handed out all three of her assists during that span and recorded two of her team-high three blocks.

“I was really upset with myself for being silly and picking up two fouls in the first half,“ said Nagbe. “My mentality in the second half was to come out and help our team prosper and score. I was determined to try any type of way to do that whether it was me scoring, me passing the ball or me playing defense. I just wanted us to get the lead and keep it.“

That’s exactly what the Falcons were able to do. Notre Dame erased Shepherd’s 30-28 halftime lead and by the 12:13 mark of the final half had built a 14-point lead.

“It seemed like today’s game would never end once we went up,“ said Notre Dame coach Katie Hine with a laugh. “We battled back and forth the entire first half. Then we came out, got a lead in the second half by double digits and I look up at the clock and there’s still nine minutes. You realize you have to sustain this lead for nine minutes and that’s not easy against Shepherd. They cut into it. They got it to three. Shepherd is one of those teams which will not go away.

“This was the first time we’ve beaten them all season and if we had to beat them once I’m glad it was this game.“

In addition to Nagbe’s 16 points the Falcons, who had 10 players play 10 minutes or more in the game and all score, got 13 points apiece from Lauren Langenderfer and Jessica Garcia and 12 from Kim Cook.

After falling behind 52-38, Shepherd came alive, rallied and trimmed the margin down to 62-59 with 4:40 to play thanks in large part to the efforts of Gabby Flinchum, Briana Vaden, Rachel Johnson and Morgan Arden.

Flinchum finished with a game-high 24 points, 14 of which came in the game’s last 16 minutes. She also pulled down eight rebounds and blocked three shots. Vaden chipped in 14 points, Johnson added nine and Arden and Liz Myers both finished with eight.

“I thought this was a great game and that both teams played their hearts out,“ said first-year Shepherd coach Jenna Eckleberry. “I know ours did. That wasn’t a question at all.

“We got down there early in the second half and had to keep trying to battle our way back. Against Notre Dame that’s not easy. I give them all the credit in the world. They were the one team I didn’t want to face down here because if they get a lead on you, they just really make it tough to come back on them. They play great team basketball and make really good decisions. We got two out of three against them this year, but today just wasn’t our day.“

After Shepherd got within three both teams struggled to score. The Falcons, however, re-grouped and outscored the Rams 13-6 in the game’s final 2:45. Nine of Notre Dame’s final 13 points came at the foul line where the Falcons finished 27-of-36 as a team.

Notre Dame was also very efficient from the field in the second half connecting on 13-of-22 shot attempts (59.1%). By comparison Shepherd took 12 more shots than Notre Dame in the second half and made one less basket. The Rams were just 12-of-34 from the field in the second half (35.3%) and for the game were just 15-of-21 at the foul line.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  No. 20 WVU takes out Oklahoma State

Devin Williams clocked in with 22 points and 13 rebounds, as No. 20 West Virginia closed out its regular season with an 81-72 triumph over Oklahoma State on Saturday.

Daxter Miles Jr. added 15 points while Jaysean Paige and Nathan Adrian had nine each for the Mountaineers (23-8, 11-7 Big 12).

Jeff Newberry’s game-best 23 points wasn’t enough for the Cowboys (18-12, 8-10). Anthony Hickey totaled 17 points and seven assists, with Phil Forte posting 13 points in defeat.

West Virginia led virtually wire-to-wire, finally gaining separation late in the first half with a 15-5 run.

A Le’Bryan Nash’s dunk pulled OSU within 22-20, but Tarik Phillip began the hosts’ run with a triple, later completed a three-point play, then Chase Connor was good from long distance and Elijah Macon capped the surge with 4:18 left in the half on a layup.

The Mountaineers nursed a six-point edge at the break, thanks to Forte’s long- range shot.

WVU’s lead quickly ballooned to 12 early in the second half after Jevon Carter and Miles sank consecutive treys. Paige converted a 3 with 6:43 left in the contest and the hosts raced out to their biggest lead of the game, 65-50.

Oklahoma State never pulled closer than seven the rest of the way.

Game Notes

West Virginia owned a 28-27 edge in the paint and a 33-22 advantage on the glass ... Nash ended up with 10 points for Oklahoma State ... OSU converted 11-of-21 shots from beyond the arc and made 54.1% from the floor, while holding WVU to 48.1%.



<The Gilmer Free Press

►  Top-25 College Men’s Basketball Game Results

(Saturday, March 07)


Final Score: (1) Kentucky 67, Florida 50

Kentucky did the expected and completed an undefeated regular season by downing Florida 67-50 on Saturday in front of the Rupp Arena faithful. The Wildcats’ run to perfection has been somewhat predictable but nevertheless impressive. All but six of their 18 conference wins came by double digits, and they head into the SEC Tournament as the first program from a power conference to complete an unbeaten regular season since Indiana in 1975-76. Karl-Anthony Towns was a force at both ends, totaling 13 points, nine rebounds and six blocks, while Trey Lyles added 14 points for the Wildcats (31-0, 18-0 SEC), who forced 17 turnovers and led the entire second half. Kasey Hill and Dorian Finney-Smith led the Gators (15-16, 8-10) with 15 and 12 points, respectively.


Final Score: (16) Louisville 59, (2) Virginia 57

On Senior Night, Louisville honored Wayne Blackshear and junior Montrezl Harrell, who is expected to declare for the NBA Draft. When the 16th-ranked Cardinals needed a basket with seconds remaining, however, it was little-used sophomore Mangok Mathiang lifting Louisville to a 59-57 win over No. 2 Virginia. The Cavaliers took a 57-56 lead with 13 seconds remaining on a contested 3-pointer by Malcolm Brogdon. Out of a timeout at the other end, Mathiang took his first shot of the game, a jumper from the foul line that handed Virginia just its second loss of the season. Harrell led the Cardinals (24-7, 12-6 ACC) with 20 points and 12 rebounds while Terry Rozier and Quentin Snider each added 11 points. Brogdon paced Virginia (28-2, 16-2) with 17 points and Darion Atkins added 10 points and seven boards.


Final Score: (3) Duke 84, (19) North Carolina 77

Duke didn’t need overtime to complete a regular-season sweep of North Carolina on Saturday. Tyus Jones scored a career-high 24 points, and the third-ranked Blue Devils posted an 84-77 victory over the No. 19 Tar Heels. Jones added seven assists, six rebounds and three steals for Duke (28-3, 15-3 ACC), which got 20 points from Quinn Cook and 14 from Jahlil Okafor. The Blue Devils will head into the ACC Tournament on an 11-game winning streak. Marcus Paige hit five 3-pointers and finished with 23 points to lead the Tar Heels (21-10, 11-7), who have lost five of the last six meetings against their greatest rivals.


Final Score: (4) Villanova 105, St. John’s 68

Daniel Ochefu scored 21 points with nine rebounds and five blocks to help No. 4 Villanova surge past St. John’s, 105-68, at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday afternoon. JayVaughn Pinkston netted 18 points with six boards and Dylan Ennis chipped in with 17 for the Wildcats (29-2, 16-2 Big East), who closed their regular season with 12 straight wins. Villanova enters the Big East Tournament as the No. 1 seed, while St. John’s will be seeded fifth. Rysheed Jordan led the Red Storm (21-10, 10-8) with 21 points and Phil Greene IV notched 16 points in the setback.


Final Score: (5) Arizona 91, Stanford 69

Brandon Ashley finished with 15 points and nine rebounds as No. 5 Arizona closed out the regular season with a 91-69 wire-to-wire victory over Stanford on Saturday. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 14 points and seven boards, Gabe York and Kaleb Tarczewski each scored 13 and T.J. McConnell netted 10 with 11 assists for the Wildcats (28-3, 16-2 Pac-12), who clinched the outright conference title on Thursday and ended the regular season with eight consecutive wins. Chasson Randle had 16 points, while Stefan Nastic and Anthony Brown each scored 14 for Stanford (18-12, 9-9), which will enter the Pac-12 tournament as the sixth seed.


Final Score: (7) Gonzaga 81, San Francisco 72

Przemek Karnowski scored 24 points to lead No. 7 Gonzaga in an 81-72 win over San Francisco in the quarterfinals of the West Coast Conference Tournament. Kyle Wiltjer had 19 points and eight rebounds while Kevin Pangos and Kyle Dranginis each gave 10 for the Bulldogs (30-2), who advanced to take on Pepperdine on Monday. Tim Derksen had 21 points and 10 rebounds and Mark Tollefsen added 21 points and eight rebounds for the Dons (14-18), who had defeated Pacific on Friday in the opening round.


Final Score: Illinois State 65, (8) Wichita State 62

Daishon Knight’s 25 points and a huge second half enabled Illinois State to pull off an absolute shocker in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, as the Redbirds knocked off eighth- ranked Wichita State 65-62 in Saturday’s first semifinal. Knight totaled 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting after halftime and was at the forefront of a game-changing 14-0 run that helped send the fourth-seeded Redbirds into the conference title game. The result also denied the league a blockbuster showdown between the Shockers and 11th-ranked Northern Iowa. Reggie Lynch added 11 points and seven rebounds in the sixth straight victory for Illinois State (21-11), which dealt the top-seeded and defending tournament champion Shockers only their second loss in their last 41 MVC games. Fred VanVleet tallied 19 points and seven rebounds for Wichita State (28-4), but his desperation 3-point attempt at the buzzer that would have forced overtime was off the mark.


Final Score: (15) Oklahoma 75, (9) Kansas 73

Buddy Hield’s bucket, the last of his team- high 18 points, came with one second left in regulation and lifted No. 15 Oklahoma to a 75-73 decision over No. 9 Kansas in the regular-season finale for both programs. Isaiah Cousins posted 16 points and four assists for the Sooners (21-9, 12-6 Big 12), while Tashawn Thomas added 13 points. Frank Mason poured in a game-best 21 points for the Jayhawks (24-7, 13-5). Landen Lucas totaled 13 points and 12 rebounds, with Jamari Traylor and Kelly Oubre totaling 12 apiece.


Final Score: (11) Northern Iowa 63, Loyola-Chicago 49

Seth Tuttle posted 13 points and six rebounds and No. 11 Northern Iowa earned a spot in the Missouri Valley Conference championship game with a 63-49 victory over Loyola-Chicago. Northern Iowa shot better than 51 percent from the field, had just seven turnovers and controlled the boards to reach its first MVC title game since 2010. Northern Iowa (29-3) will take on fourth-seeded Illinois State for the conference crown after the Redbirds stunned Wichita State 65-62 earlier on Saturday. Marvin Singleton and Jeremy Morgan added 11 points each for the Panthers, with Singleton grabbing a game-high seven rebounds. Montel James paced Loyola (19-13) with 14 points and Milton Doyle had 11 for the sixth-seeded Ramblers, who were fresh off a win over No. 3 Indiana State in Friday’s quarters.


Final Score: (12) Notre Dame 81, Clemson 67

Jerian Grant put on one final show at Purcell Pavilion, as the star senior poured in 19 points and handed out eight assists as No. 12 Notre Dame topped Clemson 81-67 on Saturday. Grant received a standing ovation in his final home game, the fans recognizing his importance to a Notre Dame (26-5, 14-4 ACC) squad that heads in the ACC Tournament next week as a No. 3 seed. Zach Auguste also scored 19 points, while Demetrius Jackson and Steve Vasturia added 14 and 12 points, respectively, for the victors. Jaron Blossomgame finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Landry Nnoko totaled 19 and nine for the Tigers (16-14, 8-10), who dropped four of their final five regular season games.


Final Score: Washington 77, (13) Utah 68

Nigel Williams-Goss scored 28 points to lead Washington to a 77-68 upset of No. 13 Utah on Saturday. Williams-Goss scored 12 of his points in the final 5 1/2 minutes as the Huskies (16-14, 5-13 Pac-12) pulled away. Andrew Andrews added 16 points, while Mike Anderson scored 15 and made 3-of-3 attempts from 3-point range on Senior Day. Delon Wright led the Utes (23-7, 13-5) with 21 points. Jakob Poeltl scored 18 on 8- of-8 shooting.


Final Score: (17) Iowa State 89, TCU 76

Monte Morris and Georges Niang each finished with 19 points and six assists to lift No. 17 Iowa State to an 89-76 win over TCU on Saturday. Bryce Dejean-Jones scored 15 points and Jameel McKay supplied 14 with 10 rebounds for the Cyclones (22-8, 12-6 Big 12), who ended the regular season with two straight wins and earned the second seed in the conference tournament. Kenrich Williams had 17 points, nine boards and seven assists, while Kyan Anderson scored 16 on 4- of-8 3-point shooting for the Horned Frogs (17-14, 4-14), who lost their third straight game.


Final Score: LSU 81, (18) Arkansas 78

Keith Hornsby hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send LSU to an 81-78 win over No. 18 Arkansas on Saturday. Before Hornsby hit the winning shot, LSU’s Jarell Martin had a key block at the other end to keep the game tied. Josh Gray then penetrated and kicked out to Hornsby in the corner for the winning jumper. Martin led all scorers with 27 points for the Tigers (22-9, 11-7 SEC). Jalyn Patterson scored 20 while hitting six 3-pointers and Gray had 10 points and six assists. Bobby Portis led Arkansas (24-7, 13-5) with 21 points and 15 rebounds.


Final Score: (20) West Virginia 81, Oklahoma State 72

Devin Williams clocked in with 22 points and 13 rebounds, as No. 20 West Virginia closed out its regular season with an 81-72 triumph over Oklahoma State on Saturday. Daxter Miles Jr. added 15 points while Jaysean Paige and Nathan Adrian had nine each for the Mountaineers (23-8, 11-7 Big 12). Jeff Newberry’s game-best 23 points wasn’t enough for the Cowboys (18-12, 8-10). Anthony Hickey totaled 17 points and seven assists, with Phil Forte posting 13 points in defeat.


Final Score: (21) Butler 68, (24) Providence 64

Roosevelt Jones scored 16 points and Kellen Dunham added 15, as 21st-ranked Butler held off a furious Providence rally and held on for a 68-64 victory over the 24th-ranked Friars on Saturday at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. Kelan Martin chipped in 14 points for the Bulldogs (22-9, 12-6 Big East), who nearly blew a 16-point lead in the second half. Butler won for the third time in its last four games and will be the third seed in the upcoming Big East Tournament. Providence (21-10, 11-7) needed only a win Saturday to wrap up the second seed. Kris Dunn led the Friars with 23 points and Tyler Harris contributed 17 in defeat.


Final Score: Belmont 88, (25) Murray State 87

Taylor Barnette’s three-pointer went through the net with 3.2 seconds remaining in regulation, giving Belmont a shocking 88-87 decision over No. 25 Murray State. Craig Bradshaw led the way with 25 points for the Bruins (22-10) won the Ohio Valley Conference for the second time in the last three seasons and became the first program to punch a ticket to the NCAA Tournament. Barnette ended up with nine points by going 3- of-8 from beyond the arc. T.J. Sapp’s 28 points wasn’t enough for the Racers (27-5), who saw their 25-game win streak come to a crashing halt. His three- point try at the buzzer was well short.

►  Confusion at Duke after accusations air about basketball program

John Guarco is a sophomore at Duke, a double major in economics and political science who recently was elected vice president of student government on a campaign platform that focused on combating sexual assault. After a recent student newspaper story asserted a men’s basketball player had been allowed to remain on the team for months after two women claimed he had sexually assaulted them, Guarco expressed a common sentiment when asked for his reaction.

Guarco, 19, gave a long answer, then changed his mind and retracted it, then stopped and gazed off into one of the many clusters of trees that weave through this pastoral campus before settling on a one-word answer: “Confusion.”

That summed up the collective response to the Chronicle story published Monday that asserted that Coach Mike Krzyzewski and athletic administrators allowed Rasheed Sulaimon to remain on the team for more than 10 months after receiving word two women anonymously asserted Sulaimon had sexually assaulted them in separate incidents. Reaction, on campus and nationally, focused on everything from the outsized importance of big-time college athletics to the complex legal obligations regarding allegations of sex crimes on college campuses to the story’s journalistic merits.

As the week wore on in Durham, it became clear that even if the accusations in the story were completely accurate, that didn’t necessarily mean Krzyzewski or any administrators handled them improperly.

In late 2013 and early 2014, according to the Chronicle’s story, two women told classmates in group discussions at student retreats that Sulaimon had sexually assaulted them. Neither woman filed a complaint with law enforcement or Duke’s Office of Student Conduct, which investigates allegations of sexual misconduct on campus. And neither spoke to Chronicle reporters, whose story is based, in part, on the recollections of other students at those retreats and an “anonymous affiliate” of Duke basketball.

The “affiliate,” the Chronicle reported, heard about the allegations and brought them to Krzyzewski and several other administrators in spring 2014. This January, a second person — a Duke student who worked as a secretary in the basketball office — also told administrators about the rumors. On January 29, Krzyzewski kicked Sulaimon off the team and released a statement saying the junior guard had been “unable to consistently live up to the standards required to be a member of our program.”

Federal law mandates university employees such as Krzyzewski report allegations of sexual violence and requires schools to investigate. But because the women wouldn’t agree to talk to school officials about their allegations, it would have been difficult for Duke to investigate. In statements this week, Duke administrators pledged they responded properly. On Thursday, Sulaimon’s attorney, who has refuted the accusations, told media outlets the university investigated last year and closed the case because the claims could not be substantiated.

Allegations of sex crimes against athletes have a special significance at Duke, a campus community scarred by a 2006 controversy in which law enforcement, news media, and members of the campus community rushed to judge lacrosse players accused of rape — charges that proved false. Some professors at Duke Law School were quick to preach caution this week and criticized the student newspaper.

“It was an irresponsible way to present that information,” law professor Paul Haagen said. The Chronicle reporters “kept putting things together in sequences where there was a suggestion something was going on or you were invited to make the conclusion as a reader. . . . A totally plausible narrative to me would be [Krzyzewski and administrators] learned about it, they referred it to the proper people, who did as thorough an investigation as they could, then reached a conclusion that nothing could be done.”

The Chronicle reporters — Emma Baccellieri and Nick Martin — declined interview requests this week and referred questions to Chronicle Editor Carleigh Stiehm. Stiehm declined to answer questions.

“We want to allow the story to stand on its own,” Stiehm wrote. “I am so proud of the reporting that Emma and Nick did.”

Sulaimon, a junior, remains a student at Duke. He was unable to be reached by The Post, and his lawyer did not return multiple calls and e-mails seeking comment.

Unless the alleged victims decide to pursue legal charges, or file complaints with the school, the story likely will dissipate with no firm conclusion of guilt or exoneration for Sulaimon.

“It’s the ultimate no-win situation,” said Orin Starn, professor of cultural anthropology at Duke. “I don’t think anybody feels good about the way that this is unfolding. If these allegations are true, that’s horrifying . . . but if the allegations are not true, one feels terrible for him.”

For some students, the most disturbing part of the story was the claim the alleged victims feared a vitriolic backlash that might result from accusing a men’s basketball player of a crime.

Dana Raphael, one of the co-founders of a student group for victims of sexual assault, said she “100% believes the survivors and supports them in whatever they do.” Raphael hopes the Chronicle story convinces her peers that idolization of the men’s basketball team at Duke — where students live in tents outside the arena for months to get tickets — is unhealthy.

“A god-like status for any person or group of people is just dangerous,” said Raphael, 20, a sophomore from Arlington majoring in Chinese and political science.

Celebrity status for college athletes is neither unique to Duke nor likely to change.

Wednesday night’s game was like any other at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The only visible sign of a controversy was in the media room, where Duke employees noted new faces clearly more interested in the postgame news conference than the outcome of the game.

The student sections filled early, as always, undergraduates pressed together, many of them coated in blue paint. When the team took the court, the crowd cheered as loud as ever. When Krzyzewski was introduced, the students greeted the coach as they always do: They bowed their heads, waved their arms and bent forward, as if in worship.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NBA Game Results

(Saturday, March 07)


Final Score: New Orleans 95, Memphis 89

The New Orleans Pelicans used a big third quarter on their way to a 95-89 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday. Trailing by 12 at halftime, the Pelicans outscored Memphis 33-17 in the third period and held on to win for the seventh time in their last nine games. Tyreke Evans led all scorers with 26 points, and Anthony Davis added 23 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks. New Orleans limited Memphis’ frontcourt duo of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph to 15 points and nine rebounds as the Grizzlies lost their two-game winning streak. Jeff Green paced Memphis with 20 points, and Mike Conley scored 17.


Final Score: Cleveland 89, Phoenix 79

imofey Mozgov had a team-high 19 points despite not playing the fourth quarter and the Cleveland Cavaliers led my as much as 32 points in an 89-79 win over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night. LeBron James added 17 points for the Cavaliers, who moved into a virtual tie with idle Chicago for first place in the Central Division. Kevin Love added 13 points and 10 rebounds in the win and Tristan Thompson had 15 points and 12 boards off the bench. The Cavs bounced back from a 106-97 loss to Atlanta on Friday, ending a tough road swing against two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. They beat Toronto on Wednesday. Markieff Morris had 16 points to lead the Suns, who had a two-game winning streak snapped to finish a 2-2 road trip.


Final Score: Miami 114, Sacramento 109 (OT)

Dwyane Wade scored 10 of his 28 points in overtime, helping the Miami Heat beat the Sacramento Kings 114-109 on Saturday. Wade sat out Friday’s loss at Washington with a sore right hip, but played a chief role in leading the Heat to a crucial victory. With the win, Miami tied Indiana for the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. The two teams are percentage points ahead of ninth-place Charlotte. Tyler Johnson had 24 points, six rebounds and six assists for the Heat, who overcame a 16-point deficit. Michael Beasley netted 18 points and Mario Chalmers added 12 with seven assists. Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins posted 27 points and 17 rebounds, but fouled out in the extra session. Rudy Gay also scored 27 points for the Kings, who have lost 13 straight to the Heat in Miami.


Final Score: Indiana 92, New York 86

David West had 14 points and 11 rebounds as the Indiana Pacers defeated the New York Knicks 92-86 on Saturday night. Rodney Stuckey netted 17 points off the bench and George Hill added 15 for the Pacers, who have won five straight and eight of their last nine games. Andrea Bargnani tallied 21 points to lead New York, which has dropped three consecutive contests.


Final Score: Philadelphia 92, Atlanta 84

Luc Mbah a Moute and Hollis Thompson each scored 19 points as the Philadelphia 76ers topped the Atlanta Hawks 92-84 on Saturday. Nerlens Noel netted 11 points with a career-high 17 rebounds and five steals for the 76ers, who ended a four-game skid. Robert Covington and Isaiah Canaan each scored 12 points. Jeff Teague had 17 points and Dennis Schroder tallied 16 off the bench for the Hawks, who rested Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap, DeMarre Carroll and Pero Antic after a 106-97 win over Cleveland on Friday.


Final Score: Minnesota 121, Portland 113

Gary Neal scored 17 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter to help the Minnesota Timberwolves record a 121-113 victory over the somewhat short-handed Portland Trail Blazers at the Target Center. Neal finished 8-of-11 from the field and the Timberwolves shot 54.1 percent as a team in halting a four-game skid and ending Portland’s five-game win streak. Kevin Martin came up big for Minnesota as well, putting up a game-high 29 points, while Andrew Wiggins added 18 and Ricky Rubio dished out 15 assists to go along with 13 points. The Trail Blazers found their first game without Wesley Matthews to be a tough task. They received 32 points from Damian Lillard and 21 from fellow star LaMarcus Aldridge, went 14-of-27 from 3-point range, but had trouble getting stops all evening long. Matthews, third on the Blazers in scoring with a 15.9 points per game average, suffered a season- ending torn Achilles in Thursday’s win over Dallas. Arron Afflalo finished with 14 points starting in Matthews’ place.


Final Score: Milwaukee 91, Washington 85

Khris Middleton scored a career-high 30 points and the Milwaukee Bucks snapped a four-game losing streak with a 91-85 win over the Washington Wizards on Saturday night. Jerryd Bayless had 13 points and Michael Carter-Williams chipped in 12 points and nine assists for the Bucks, who were coming off an 0-4 road trip. Paul Pierce scored 14 points to lead the Wizards, who have dropped nine in a row on the road. After nearly blowing a 35-point lead in a win over Miami on Friday night, the Wizards were never up by more than two against the Bucks—and that only came in the last six minutes after they overcame a 17-point deficit in the third quarter. Middleton gave the Bucks the lead for good on a 3-pointer that snapped a tie with 40.8 seconds left. It was part of a 9-2 game-ending run by Milwaukee.


Final Score: Houston 114, Denver 100

James Harden had 24 points and seven assists as the Houston Rockets defeated the Denver Nuggets 114-100 on Saturday night. Corey Brewer posted 24 points and six rebounds for the Rockets, who have won seven of their last nine games. Wilson Chandler provided 26 points, five boards and four steals, while Randy Foye added 20 points and seven assists for Denver, which has dropped eight of its last 10 contests.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Darvish has sprained elbow, may need surgery

Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish has a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, an injury that could require season-ending Tommy John surgery.

Darvish underwent an MRI exam on Friday after pitching just one inning in his spring debut Thursday, exiting the contest with tightness in his right triceps. Texas’ ace has discussed possible options for surgery with team orthopedist Dr. Keith Meister, but he will consult with other surgeons before making a final decision.

“I will be disappointed if I have to miss the season, but I want to look at all options, including getting a second opinion, before I make a final decision,“ Darvish said in a statement. “In the meantime, my heart is with my teammates, and our focus remains on accomplishing our goals for the season.“

Darvish missed the final seven weeks last season due to mild inflammation in his right elbow.

The 28-year-old right-hander was 10-7 with a 3.06 ERA in 22 starts before the injury. He owns a career mark of 39-25 with a 3.27 ERA in 83 starts over three seasons with the Rangers.


►  Chris Young inks one-year deal with Royals

The Kansas City Royals have added another experienced arm to their starting rotation mix, signing veteran Chris Young to a one-year contract Saturday.

Young joins the defending American League champions off a tremendous bounce- back season with the Seattle Mariners, in which the 35-year-old matched a career high with 12 wins and posted a 3.65 ERA over 29 starts and one relief appearance.

The 6-foot-10 right-hander, who did not pitch in the majors in 2013, was named the AL’s Comeback Player of the Year by the Sporting News for his performance.

Young owns a 65-52 overall record with a 3.77 ERA in 10 major league seasons with Texas, San Diego, the New York Mets and Seattle. He was named an NL All- Star with the Padres in 2007.

The Royals were seeking some additional rotation depth with free-agent acquisition Kris Medlen not expected to be ready until around midseason.

Medlen, recovering from Tommy John surgery, was placed on the 60-day disabled list to make room for Young on the 40-man roster.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Saturday, March 07)


Final Score: Boston 3, Philadelphia 2 (OT)

Brad Marchand tied the game late in regulation and scored the winner with 68 seconds left in overtime as the Boston Bruins defeated the Philadelphia Flyers, 3-2, in a crucial Eastern Conference clash on Saturday afternoon. Thanks to a Sean Couturier turnover in the neutral zone, former Flyer Max Talbot gained possession. Marchand skated in down the left side, took a pass from Talbot and cut to the middle, then sent a backhand on net that hit off defenseman Michael Del Zotto’s skate and changed direction before fluttering past Steve Mason for the win. Boston, which has beaten Philadelphia in six straight meetings, moved five points ahead of the Flyers for the final playoff spot in the East. Zdeno Chara also scored for the Bruins, Dougie Hamilton had two assists and Tukka Rask made 29 saves in the win. Jakub Voracek and Chris VandeVelde each tallied a goal for the Flyers, who have recorded at least one point (2-0-2) in four straight games. Mason stopped 34 shots for Philadelphia.


Final Score: St. Louis 6, Toronto 1

T.J. Oshie, Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz each had a goal and an assist as the St. Louis Blues routed the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-1 on Saturday night. St. Louis, which outshot Toronto 44-24, raced out to a 3-0 lead with a trio of goals in the opening period and were up 5-0 heading into the third, where it coasted to the easy win. David Backes, Paul Stastny and Chris Butler also found the back of the net, while Alexander Steen and Jori Lehtera each posted three assists apiece for the Blues, who had dropped four of their last six games coming in. Brian Elliott made 23 saves in the triumph. David Booth netted the lone goal for Toronto, which has lost four of its last five contests. Jonathan Bernier stopped 14-of-17 shots before being pulled after a period of play. James Reimer finished the game and made 24 saves over the final two stanzas.


Final Score: Tampa Bay 5, Dallas 4

Alex Killorn and Victor Hedman scored in a two-minute span early in the third period and the Tampa Bay Lightning set a franchise record for home wins in a 5-4 victory over Tyler Seguin and the Dallas Stars on Saturday night. Anton Stralman, Nikita Kucherov and Brian Boyle also scored for Tampa Bay and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 31 saves. The Lightning finished a 3-0 homestand with their 26th victory at Amalie Arena (26-6-1), breaking the previous team record of 25 home wins set four times, including last season. Seguin scored two goals for Dallas in his return from a 10-game absence due to a knee injury. Vernon Fiddler also had two goals for the Stars, who had a two-game winning streak snapped. Jhonas Enroth allowed five goals on 28 shots.


Final Score: Florida 4, NY Islanders 3 (SO)

Dan Ellis followed up a 25-save effort through regulation and overtime by stopping all three New York Islanders skaters in the shootout, helping lift the Florida Panthers to a much-needed 4-3 win. Ellis came up big in the veteran’s second start since being summoned from the minors due to recent injuries to goaltenders Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya, as did Jonathan Huberdeau in an important game for the Panthers. Huberdeau scored once in regulation and again during the shootout for Florida, which trails Boston by two points for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Panthers also received goals from Erik Gudbranson and Nick Bjugstad. New York managed just one point despite receiving a goal and two assists from captain John Tavares, who set up Josh Bailey’s one-timer that tied the game at 3-3 with 7:12 left in the third period. Michal Neuvirth, acquired from Buffalo at Monday’s trade deadline, turned aside just 15- of-18 chances in his Islanders debut.


Final Score: Washington 6, Buffalo 1

Braden Holtby needed to make just 16 saves, while six different players lit the lamp as Washington trounced Buffalo, 6-1, at Verizon Center. Curtis Glencross led the way with a goal and two assists for the Capitals, who have won three of their last four. Alex Ovechkin and Jay Beagle added a score and helper each, while Brooks Laich, Joel Ward and Marcus Johansson also tallied. Johan Larsson provided the lone offense for the Sabres, losers of four straight. Matt Hackett took the loss, pulled after allowing four goals on 23 shots in almost 34 minutes. Anders Lindback finished up yielding two scores on 22 shots.


Final Score: Colorado 4, Columbus 0

Semyon Varlamov earned his career-high fifth shutout of the season with a glittering 44-save performance as the visiting Colorado Avalanche beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-0 on Saturday. Tyson Barrie collected three assists for the Avalanche, who scored three times before the game was 10 minutes old and rode Varlamov’s play to their seventh win in 10 tries. Curtis McElhinney gave up three goals on 12 shots in the first period. Sergei Bobrovsky was in net to start the second period and finished with 20 saves for Columbus, which had a seven-game losing streak end with Friday’s win at New Jersey.


Final Score: Winnipeg 3, Nashville 1

Michael Hutchinson stopped 20 shots as the Winnipeg Jets posted a 3-1 victory over the faltering Nashville Predators on Saturday. Drew Stafford and Blake Wheeler posted a goal and an assist, while Michael Frolik also scored for the Jets, who have won two of their last three. Ryan Ellis had the only goal of the game for the Predators, who have now dropped six straight and eight of their last 10. Pekka Rinne allowed two goals on 25 shots in the loss.


Final Score: Montreal 2, Arizona 0

Carey Price turned aside all 29 shots fired his way for his seventh shutout of the season in the Montreal Canadiens’ 2-0 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday. Price stopped five shots in the first period, eight during the middle stanza and 16 in the third for his 32nd career shutout. Lars Eller and Brendan Gallagher each scored for the Canadiens, who ended a three-game skid and their four-game Western Conference road trip. Mike Smith made 33 saves in his eight straight start for the Coyotes, who have lost 11 of their last 12 games.


Final Score: Pittsburgh 1, Los Angeles 0 (OT)

Patric Hornqvist scored 1:44 into overtime to lift the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 1-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday. After neither goaltender blinked through regulation, an ill-advised pass by Los Angeles led to the goal. Jeff Carter had the puck along the left corner and sent a pass to the front of his own net for Dwight King, who was unable to handle the puck as Paul Martin came up to cause a turnover. Hornqvist quickly grabbed the puck in the slot and snapped it in for his 22nd goal of the season and the victory. Marc-Andre Fleury turned away all 31 shots for his ninth shutout of the season for the Penguins, who have won six of their last seven. Jonathan Quick stopped 17 shots for the Kings, who had a two-game winning streak snapped.


Final Score: Vancouver 3, San Jose 2

Radim Vrbata scored two goals, Eddie Lack made 38 saves and the visiting Vancouver Canucks rallied for a 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday. Bo Horvat had the other tally for the Canucks, who climbed out of a two-goal hole to snap a two-game losing streak and move into sole possession of second place in the Pacific Division. Joe Thornton had a goal and an assist, and Antti Niemi stopped 31 shots for San Jose, which had won its last two games, including a 6-2 triumph at Vancouver on Tuesday.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Italy wins doubles for Davis Cup lead over Kazakhstan

Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli gave Italy the lead in its Davis Cup first-round tie against Kazakhstan on Saturday with a crucial doubles victory.

Fognini and Bolelli earned a 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 6-7 (13-15), 6-4 triumph over Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov to give Italy a 2-1 advantage in the best-of-five series.

The Italians need only one victory in Sunday’s reverse singles action to advance to the quarterfinals, while the Kazakhs will have to sweep Sunday’s matches.

Andreas Seppi will have the first opportunity to clinch it for Italy on Sunday against Mikhail Kukushkin. Both were winners Friday. Kukushkin gave the hosts the first point with a 7-6 (8-6), 6-1, 6-2 victory over Bolelli before Seppi evened it for the Italians with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2 triumph over Golubev.

Bolelli and Golubev are currently slated to meet in a potential fifth rubber, but Fognini could get a call Sunday if needed.

Fognini sat out the first day of singles and was fresh for Saturday. He and Bolelli managed to squeeze out the first set in a tiebreaker by winning the final three points, then broke Golubev in the ninth game of the second set before a Bolelli hold at love.

There were no breaks in the third set and the tiebreak went 28 points before the Kazakhs stayed alive. However, it was only for a short time as a break of Nedovyesov in the 10th game of the fourth set sealed the victory for the Italians.

Sunday’s winner will advance to a July quarterfinal matchup with either Australia or the Czech Republic.

Italy reached the semifinals of last year’s Davis Cup before losing to eventual champion Switzerland and has just one title in its history, coming back in 1976.

Kazakhstan has never won the Davis Cup and last year also fell to Switzerland in the quarterfinals.


►  France again knocks off Germany in Davis Cup

France clinched a spot in the Davis Cup quarterfinals Saturday when the doubles team of Julien Benneteau and Nicolas Mahut claimed a straight-set win over Germany’s Benjamin Becker and Andre Begemann.

Benneteau and Mahut rolled to a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 triumph to give the visiting French an insurmountable 3-0 lead in the best-of-five tie.

France had built a 2-0 cushion on Friday thanks to singles victories from Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils.

The nine-time Davis Cup champs will next play the winner between Great Britain and the United States in July’s quarterfinals. France, though, hasn’t won the crown since 2001 and last year came up just short with a loss to Switzerland in the final.

Germany, which won the last of its three Davis Cup titles in 1993, was eliminated by France for a second straight year. The French roared back from an 0-2 deficit in last year’s quarterfinals to pull off the stunning victory.

This year, it was less dramatic.

The Germans fell to 2-9 all-time against their European neighbors and haven’t beaten France in the competition since 1938.


►  Djokovic powers Serbia into Davis Cup quarters

Novak Djokovic was inserted into the doubles lineup Saturday and helped Serbia clinch a spot in the Davis Cup quarterfinals.

Djokovic easily won his opening singles match Friday to help the hosts to a 2-0 lead over Croatia in the first round of the Davis Cup, but was not originally slated to play Saturday.

However, after Viktor Troicki went five sets to rally past Borna Coric in Friday’s second singles match, a fresher Djokovic was called upon to take the court with Nenad Zimonjic. The duo rolled to a 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 triumph over Franko Sjkugor and Marin Draganja to wrap up the best-of-five tie.

Serbia owns an insurmountable 3-0 advantage and will next play against the winner between Argentina and Brazil in July’s quarterfinals.

Djokovic had a relatively easy couple of matches this weekend. He powered past Mate Delic on Friday in a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 rout to give the hosts the first point.

Serbia won its lone Davis Cup title in 2010, beating Croatia en route to the crown, and was the runner-up two years ago.


►  Belgians grab lead over Swiss in Davis Cup

Ruben Bemelmans and Niels Desein have Belgium on the cusp of its first Davis Cup quarterfinal in eight years.

The duo teamed to capture a 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 doubles victory over the Swiss tandem of Michael Lammer and Adrien Bossel on Saturday to give Belgium a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five first-round tie.

Switzerland won last year’s Davis Cup with Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka leading the way. The two Grand Slam champions, however, are not part of the country’s defense.

The highest-ranked player in this weekend’s tie is Belgium’s David Goffin, but the world No. 21 did not play the first two days as he battles a back and rib injury.

Steve Darcis, ranked No. 102, will get the first chance to clinch the tie for Belgium on Sunday in the opening reverse singles match against Henri Laaksonen.

Both were winners on Friday, as Laaksonen outlasted Bemelmans in five sets for the first point of the weekend before Darcis hammered Michael Lammer in three quick sets to even it at one apiece.

If Laaksonen can prevail again, the deciding fifth rubber is currently slated to feature Bemelmans and Lammer. However, Darcis may try to play for the hosts if needed.

The Swiss lead the all-time series between the two sides, 4-3, including a victory in the most recent encounter in 2008.

Sunday’s winner will meet the Canada-Japan victor in July’s quarterfinals.


►  Ivanovic, Errani move into Monterrey semis

Defending champion Ana Ivanovic was an easy quarterfinal winner, while second-seeded Sara Errani had a bit tougher time advancing during Friday’s play at the Monterrey Open tennis event.

The top-seeded Ivanovic needed just an hour to dispose of Kristina Mladenovic by a 6-3, 6-2 score on the hardcourts of the Sierra Madre Tennis Club.

Next up for the 2008 French Open champion will be Timea Bacsinszky. The fourth-seeded Swiss, fresh off a surprising title in Acapulco last week, moved into the semis with a 6-4, 6-2 decision over qualifier Urszula Radwanska.

Errani trailed late in the first set of her match with No. 5 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, but rallied to down the three-time Monterrey champ 7-5, 6-4.

Pavlyuchenkova entered Friday’s match 17-0 all-time at this event, having won the tournament in 2010, 2011 and 2013.

Errani will next take on third-seeded Caroline Garcia, who won the first set 7-5 against Magdalena Rybarikova before the Slovakian was forced to retire.

This year’s Monterrey champ will earn $111,389.


►  Wozniacki to meet Dulgheru for Malaysian Open crown

Top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki rolled into the title match of the Malaysian Open with another dominating win Saturday.

The former world No. 1 cruised past Taiwanese wild card Su-Wei Hsieh on Saturday, 6-2, 6-2. Wozniacki has lost just 17 games in four matches this week and hasn’t dropped more than four games in a set.

Hsieh, the 2012 Kuala Lumpur champion, fell to 0-4 lifetime against Wozniacki.

Next up for Wozniacki will be Romania’s Alexandra Dulgheru, who rallied for a 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (7-4) win over fourth-seeded Jarmila Gajdosova of Australia in Saturday’s first semifinal.

Dulgheru will play in a final for the first time in five years. She is 2-0 all-time in title matches, winning the Warsaw Open in both 2009 and 2010.

Wozniacki, meanwhile, is 22-16 in finals, including 0-1 this year. She lost to Venus Williams at the season-opener in Auckland.

The two-time U.S. Open runner-up played Dulgheru just last week in Doha, with the Dane taking a second-round victory when Dulgheru retired in the second set after winning just one of 10 games played. Wozniacki also won the first meeting five years ago in straight sets at the French Open.

This week’s champion will collect $43,000.


►  Czechs stay alive in Davis Cup with doubles win

The Czech Republic stayed alive in its Davis Cup first-round tie against Australia with a doubles win Saturday.

The Czechs entered the day in an 0-2 hole after the Aussies claimed both singles matches on Friday, but the tandem of Jiri Vesely and Adam Pavlasek rallied for a 1-6, 7-6 (7-2), 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 victory over the Australian duo of Lleyton Hewitt and Sam Groth.

Australia can still capture the best-of-five tie with one singles victory on Sunday, while the Czechs need to sweep both reverse singles match Sunday to advance.

The three-time Davis Cup champion Czechs are playing this weekend without Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek. The veteran duo helped the host nation to consecutive Davis Cup titles in 2012 and 2013.

Australia has won 28 Davis Cup titles, but none since 2003. The Aussies haven’t been past the World Group first round since a semifinal run back in 2006.

Bernard Tomic will have the first opportunity to give the visitors a victory on Sunday when he plays Lukas Rosol in the first reverse singles match. Tomic beat Vesely in three sets Friday.

Vesely is then scheduled to meet Thanasi Kokkinakis in a potential decisive rubber. Kokkinakis rallied from a two-set deficit to stun Rosol in the first singles match Friday.

The Aussies lead the series between the two nations 6-1, including a victory in the most recent tie between the sides in 1997.

Sunday’s winner will move on to meet Italy or Kazakhstan in a quarterfinal in July.


►  Bryans keep U.S. alive in Davis Cup with Britain

Bob and Mike Bryan blew a two-set lead Saturday, but still managed to keep the United States alive in its Davis Cup first-round tie against Great Britain.

The decorated twins watched a two-set lead disappear against a British tandem of Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot, but still came away with a 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-7 (8-10), 9-7 triumph in a match that took 3 hours and 39 minutes.

It’s still a daunting task for the Americans, who have come back from an 0-2 deficit just once in their entire storied Davis Cup history.

Andy Murray will have the first chance to win it for Britain on Sunday against John Isner. The native of Scotland, playing in front of his home fans, needed four sets on Friday to beat Donald Young to give the Brits their first point of the weekend.

Isner went nearly five hours on Friday against James Ward before finally falling, 15-13, in the final set to put the Americans into their 0-2 hole.

Should Isner prevail against the two-time Grand Slam champ on Sunday, the decisive rubber would feature Ward against Young.

The Bryan brothers appeared to have Saturday’s match well in control after cruising through the first two sets in a mere 58 minutes, but the Brits stormed back. A break of serve in the fourth game of the third pushed the match further and the Brits saved a trio of break points in the fourth set before sending it to a tiebreak.

After saving a match point down 8-7 in the tiebreak, the Brits won three straight points to force a decisive fifth set. There were no breaks in the fifth until Jamie Murray was broken in the 15th game. Mike Bryan then held to finally win it for the 16-time Grand Slam champions.

Great Britain is trying to eliminate the U.S. for a second straight year in the first round, having claimed a 3-1 win last year in San Diego.

The U.S. leads this all-time series, 11-8. The Americans own a record 32 Davis Cup titles, while Britain boasts nine, with its last coming in 1936. The Americans last hoisted the chalice in 2007.

Sunday’s winner will meet France in July’s quarterfinals. The French clinched their tie on Saturday with a doubles victory for an insurmountable 3-0 lead over Germany.


►  Brazil edges ahead of Argentina in Davis Cup

Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares captured Saturday’s doubles match to give Brazil a slight edge over South American rival Argentina in their first-round Davis Cup tie.

Melo and Soares rolled to a 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 win over the Argentine duo of Carlos Berlocq and Diego Sebastian Schwartzman to give Brazil a 2-1 lead in their best-of-five series.

Joao Souza will give the visitors the first opportunity to clinch the tie Sunday in the opening reverse singles match against Leonardo Mayer. Both were winners in singles action Friday.

Souza outlasted Berlocq in five sets to give Brazil the first point of the weekend before Mayer topped Tomaz Bellucci in four sets to even the tie.

A potential decisive rubber would feature Berlocq against Bellucci, although Federico Delbonis is also available for the hosts.

Argentina is 5-2 all-time versus Brazil in Davis Cup play.

The winner of this opening-round tie will face Serbia in a July quarterfinal. The Serbs clinched their first-round tie Saturday against Croatia with a doubles victory.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Ready for Rye rolls to victory in Swale Stakes

Ready for Rye, ridden by Luis Saez, rolled to victory in Saturday’s $200,000 Swale Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

Six 3-year-olds went to post for the seven-furlong Swale with Daredevil the 3-5 odds-on favorite for his 2015 debut and Ready for Rye sent off at 6-1. The race was postponed from last week because of weather problems.

Trained by Tom Albertrani, Ready for Rye took the lead out of the gate but relinquished it to X Y Jet who stumbled at the start. Ready for Rye pressed X Y Jet up the backstretch with Daredevil in fourth.

Ready for Rye, owned by Chalk Racing, re-took the lead on the far turn with Bluegrass Singer in second. Ready for Rye cruised down the stretch to register a 2 3/4-length win over Daredevil.

“My only question today was if he would go seven-eighths, that was the only doubt in my mind. I know he’s got a lot of speed,“ Albertrani said. “We’ll go back to New York and keep him short for now. I’ll ask Luis how much horse he had galloping out.“

Senor Grits was third followed by Bluegrass Singer, Social Request and X Y Jet. Souper Colossal and Twotwentyfive A were scratched.

The time for the Swale was 1:22.39 on a fast track.

Ready for Rye notched his second win in four career starts, with two seconds, and picked up $122,760. The gelding has banked $203,360.

Ready for Rye was second to Barbados in Gulfstream’s Spectacular Bid Stakes on January 03 as the 11-10 favorite. As a 2-year-old he was second first time out and won at Belmont Park last October.

Ready For Rye returned $14.60, $4.60 and $3.00. Daredevil paid $2.60 and $2.10, and Senor Grits paid $3.20 to show.


►  El Kabeir proves too strong in Gotham Stakes

Post-time favorite El Kabeir made a sweeping move into the stretch on his way to winning Saturday’s $400,000 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct.

The 1 1/16-mile stakes is the final local prep event for the $1 million Wood Memorial on April 04. The Gotham attracted 10 3-year-olds with eight betting interests. El Kabeir was sent off as the 13-10 favorite.

Trained by John Terranova for Zayat Stables, El Kabeir and jockey C. C. Lopez broke cleanly from the gate and settled off the pace being set by Toasting Master and Blame Jim. Blame Jim was coupled with Dontbetwithbruno and Uninfluenced.

El Kabeir raced well back of the leaders up the backstretch but began to advance on the final turn. The favorite was four wide coming into the stretch and moved easily to the lead with a furlong to run.

El Kabeir drove to a three-length victory over 11-1 longshot Tiz Shea D with 4-1 third pick Classy Class getting third.

The Gotham win was worth 50 points in the Kentucky Derby points system. El Kabeir now has 75 points toward a place in the 20-horse starting field of the Run for the Roses on May 02.

El Kabeir adds $240,000 to this earnings which stand now at $678,892 with wins in half of his eight starts.

El Kabeir won the Jerome at Aqueduct on January 03 as the 7-5 top pick by almost five lengths as he began his 2015 season. Five weeks later the colt, sent off as the 1-2 favorite, was second to Far From Over in the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct.

El Kabeir broke his maiden by 10 3/4 lengths in his second start on August 30 at Saratoga. He was fourth in the slop in the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park on October 4 and second in Aqueduct’s Nashua Stakes on November 02 in the mud. The colt went wire to wire to win the 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs on November 29.

El Kabeir paid $4.60, $3.10 and $2.50. Tiz Shea D returned $8.00 and$4.60, and Classy Class paid $3.80 to show.


►  Carpe Diem powers to victory in Tampa Bay Derby

Carpe Diem, making his 2015 debut, sailed home to victory in Saturday’s $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs.

The 1 1/16-mile Tampa Bay Derby drew a field of nine 3-year-olds with Carpe Diem the even-money favorite and local stakes winner Ocean Knight the 8-5 second choice.

Carpe Diem, co-owned by Stonestreet Stable and WinStar Farm, sat just off the pace that was set by Diving Rod and My Johnny Be Good. Ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez and trained by Todd Pletcher, Carpe Diem moved to the lead coming off the final turn and cruised through the stretch to post a five- length win over Ami’s Flatter with Diving Rod third and Danzig Moon fourth.

“He was very fresh warming up and when they finally got him into the gate and I got on, he settled down,“ Velazquez said. “We broke very well and I took a position just where I wanted to be, right behind the leaders. He rated very well and I was able to wait with him until nearing the stretch. When I asked, he came away very nicely.“

Completing the order of finish were Great Stuff, Moonlight Bandit, Ocean Knight and My Johnny Be Good.

The time for the Tampa Bay Derby was 1:43.60 on a fast track.

Carpe Diem earned 50 points with the victory for a possible place in this year’s Kentucky Derby on May 02 at Churchill Downs.

The chestnut colt earned $210,000 with his first win of the year. The 3-year- old has three wins from four starts for $919,800.

Carpe Diem won his first two starts last year, including the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland. The chestnut colt was the 9-5 favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita but finished second to Texas Red by 6 1/2 lengths.

Carpe Diem returned $4.00, $3.00 and $2.40. Ami’s Flatter paid $9.00 and $6.80, and Divining Rod paid $5.60 to show.


►  Shared Belief locks up Santa Anita Handicap

If ever there was a lock to win a horse race then Shared Belief was that horse in Saturday’s $1 million Santa Anita Handicap.

Shared Belief, trained and co-owned by Jerry Hollendorfer, went off as the 3-10 favorite versus 12 rivals with Moreno a distant 9-1 second choice. The 4- year-old gelding, ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, further established himself as the best thoroughbred in training with a convincing victory in the 1 1/4-mile Big ‘Cap.

Shared Belief was running sixth in the early going as Moreno and Sr. Quisqueyano set the pace. The favorite moved into second three wide around the turn for home and appeared to have made contact with Moreno coming into the stretch.

Shared Belief, with Smith not even touching his whip, bounded home for a 4 1/4-length victory over Moreno with Catch a Flight a nose back in third.

“Shared Belief makes us look good, and he did it easy,“ Hollendorfer said. “I’m just so grateful to have a horse like this. You never expect it (to have a horse considered the best in the country), so I’m very pleased to have this horse and hope that we can keep him racing well like he has been.“

Completing the order of finish were Hard Aces, Bronzo, Dynamic Sky, You Know I Know, Imperative, Sr. Quisqueyano, Cool Samurai, Patrioticandproud, Diamond Bachelor and Crimson Giant.

The time for the Big ‘Cap was 2:00.67 on a fast track.

Shared Belief has won both starts in 2015 and has 10 wins from 11 lifetime starts overall. Winning the Big ‘Cap was worth $600,000 to bring his earnings to $2,932,200.

“It’s an amazing thing,“ said co-owner Jim Rome. “It’s like he shows up every single time - he always runs big, is always tough, and just has a lot of grit, a lot of heart. It’s an absolute dream to be involved with a horse like this. He never disappoints. I couldn’t be more proud. I love the horse.“

Four weeks ago Shared Belief captured the San Antonio Invitational over 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome. His lone defeat came in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic when he was bumped at the start by eventual winner Bayern and finished fourth.

However, the gelding came back on Santa Anita’s opening day, December 26, to win the Malibu Stakes. He was a finalist for the 2014 Eclipse Award as champion 3- year-old male which went to California Chrome.

Shared Belief returned $2.60, $2.20 and $2.10. Moreno paid $4.80 and $4.20, and Catch a Flight paid $4.20 to show.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Smith, Brown on top in Puerto Rico

Chris Smith and Scott Brown moved into a share of the lead after Saturday’s third round at the Puerto Rico Open.

Smith posted a 4-under 68, while Brown matched the low round of the day with his 5-under 67. They are tied at 6-under-par 210. Both Smith and Brown have one PGA Tour victory.

Jon Curran (70) and Emiliano Grillo (72) share third place at minus-5 at Trump International Golf Club.

Second-round leader Alex Cejka had two bogeys and a double-bogey over the final four holes to fall from the lead. Cejka stumbled to a 3-over 75, which dropped him into a tie for fifth at 4-under-par 212.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Dillon dominant in Xfinity race at Las Vegas

Austin Dillon put on a dominating performance but had to hold off a hard-charging Ryan Blaney in the closing laps to wins Saturday’s Boyd Gaming 300 Xfinity Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Dillon, a Sprint Cup Series regular, started on the pole and led 183 of 200 laps. He drove the No. 33 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing in this 300- mile race. Dillon claimed his third career win in NASCAR’s second-tier series, but it was his first since September 2012 at Kentucky. He won the 2013 Xfinity championship but did so without scoring a victory that season.

“This is awesome,“ Dillon said. “This is my third Xfinity win, and I’m really proud of this one. I love Vegas too.“

Dillon won a Camping World Truck Series race at Las Vegas in 2010.

Blaney, driving the No. 22 Ford for Team Penske, pitted during a late-race caution and ran in ninth for the final restart with 21 laps to go. Blaney, with new tires, quickly charged through the field and took second with eight laps to go.

“There at the end, the 22 (Blaney) put a heck of a charge on,“ Dillon said. “I didn’t know he had (new) tires. I was like, ‘Man, where did he come from?‘ It was like he had a jet pack.“

Dillon prevented Blaney from passing him several times during the last two laps. He beat Blaney to the finish line by 0.664 seconds.

“Got a good run off of (turn) four coming to the white (flag), and (Dillon) did what he needed to do and stopped my run,“ Blaney said. “Then I slipped a little in one and two on the white flag up top and couldn’t get to his outside. It was a good run for us. I think it was a good call to come in and put four (tires) on it and tighten me up some more. I was really loose all day, and we didn’t have anything for the 33 (Dillon) all day, and that gave us a shot at it.“

Blaney and Erik Jones, the driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, forced the sixth and final caution on lap 173. Just after a restart, Blaney got loose and bumped into Jones, who spun out and slammed into the outside wall in turn 4. Both drivers were battling for position at the time of their incident.

“Unfortunately that contact with Erik, that sucked and it got me really loose on the bottom of (turns) three and four and I hit him a little bit,“ Blaney said. “I hate to see him wreck. That was unfortunate.“

Blaney pitted during that last caution for four new tires.

Jones had led a total of seven laps before he crashed. He ended up finishing 29th.

“(Blaney) just lost it. Not a lot of car control on his end,“ Jones said. “It was really unfortunate to be taken out that late. We had a strong car - one that I thought could have contended for the win.“

Regan Smith finished third, followed by Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott, the defending Xfinity champion.

Brendan Gaughan, a Las Vegas native, Darrell Wallace Jr., Ty Dillon, who is Austin’s younger brother, Brennan Poole and Daniel Suarez completed the top-10.

Ty Dillon took over the points lead. He holds a six-point advantage over Chris Buescher, who finished 14th. Ryan Reed, the 15th-place finisher, is third in the standings (-15), followed by Wallace (-16) and Elliott (-24).


►  Gordon involved in practice crash at Vegas, goes to backup car

Jeff Gordon, the pole winner for the Kobalt Tools 400, will have to start Sunday’s race from the rear of the field in a backup car after he was involved in practice crash on Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Gordon sustained heavy damage to the right front and right rear of his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet when he made contact with Danica Patrick in the closing minutes of the final Sprint Cup Series practice. Patrick spun out in front of him.

Gordon’s team quickly unloaded his backup car from the hauler, but he was not able to make any practice laps in it. He is driving the same backup car that he used in last year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup championship races at Chicagoland, Charlotte and Texas. He finished second at Chicagoland and Charlotte and had a top-five run going at Texas before he made contact with Brad Keselowski in the final laps, resulting in a 29th-place finish.

“Just when u think everything is starting to go your way 10 spins in front of u & ruins ur day & the @3MRacing @TeamChevy. Going to backup!,“ Gordon tweeted shortly after his crash with Patrick.

On Friday, Gordon won the pole at Las Vegas for the first time with a new track qualifying record lap at 194.679 mph. It was his second pole of the season and the 79th of his Sprint Cup career. He started first in the Feb. 22 season-opening Daytona 500.

Gordon is a four-time champion in NASCAR’s premier series. This is his final season of competition.

David Ragan will also start Sunday’s 400-mile race at Las Vegas from the rear of the field in a backup car after crashing in practice. Ragan, who is driving the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in place of the injured Kyle Busch, made contact with the wall in turn 2 with a couple of minutes left in practice. He qualified 13th.

Jimmie Johnson, the six-time series champion and a record four-time race winner at Las Vegas, posted the fastest laps in both of Saturday’s practice sessions.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Ruenroeng keeps flyweight title with unanimous decision

Amnat Ruenroeng remained unbeaten and kept his IBF flyweight title Saturday with a unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Zou Shiming.

Ruenroeng went down in the second round, but came back to pull out the decision. He won by scores of 116-111 on all three cards.

The 35-year-old native of Thailand improved to 15-0 lifetime and has won three straight title defenses since capturing the belt with a unanimous decision over Rocky Fuentes in January 2014.

Shiming had won his first six bouts since turning pro after winning gold at the 2012 London Olympics. He also won gold at the 2008 Games in Beijing.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  ‘15 Season Preview: Kinnear aims to put his stamp on ‘Quakes

After nine years away from the San Jose Earthquakes, head coach Dominic Kinnear returns to revive a franchise in need of a breath of fresh air.

Kinnear’s first stint at the club included a pair of MLS Cup titles as an assistant coach while he guided the ‘Quakes to the Supporters’ Shield in 2005 before leaving with the team for Houston.

But after San Jose captured another Supporters’ Shield in 2012, the team has failed to reach the postseason in each of the past two years, including a six- win campaign last year that resulted in the ‘Quakes finishing last in the Western Conference.

Former boss Mark Watson had the interim tag removed following an 11-5-3 run to close out the 2013 season. However, last year’s struggles cost him his job, and Kinnear has now been charged with turning things back in the right direction.

A 15-match winless streak left a bad taste in the mouth of everyone at the club, but as defender Clarence Goodson said after the appointment of Kinnear, the boss certainly has the backing of his players.

“I think the coach automatically has the respect of the team,“ Goodson said of Kinnear’s arrival. “It’s what you do with that respect from Day 1. Do you continue to gain more respect, or do players start to not believe in some cases? And I think Dom is a guy, wherever he’s been, he’s had tons of respect. His track record speaks for itself.

“For me, it’s very exciting to be here with a coach that I believe in 100%, someone that I know if we listen and do what he asks of us, we’re going to have a lot of success personally and collectively. That’s what you want.“

And Kinnear has not wasted a lot of time in stamping his mark on this year’s Earthquakes.

A trio of long-time players, Jon Busch, Sam Cronin and Jason Hernandez, has each moved on during a busy offseason, and Kinnear has made clear the fact that he has no loyalty to anyone on the team, and he is treating his return as if he was coming to a totally new side.

“The one thing I said was, I didn’t want to be a butcher, but I have no loyalty to anybody here,“ Kinnear said. “I’ve been gone for nine years. I have to look at it as not the guy that came from 2005. I have to look at it [as], I’m a brand-new coach coming into this team. So I have to look at it with a completely blank slate.“

While Kinnear jettisoned a few core players, he also made sure to restock his roster with speed in the form of defender Marvell Wynne as well as midfielders Leandro Barrera and Sanna Nyassi, while Swiss forward Innocent Emeghara may be the most important piece after being signed as a Designated Player in January.

The 25-year-old is expected to open up space for Chris Wondolowski, who was San Jose’s only real goal threat last season, leading the club with 14 goals.

Emeghara’s partnership with Wondolowski will be key in San Jose’s success this season, and the Swiss frontman is also hopeful that he can parlay a strong stint in MLS into a return to the Swiss national team after failing to earn a cap for the past two years.

Defensively, it will be interesting to see how the center back pairing of Goodson and Victor Bernardez works, while a full season with Designated Player Matias Perez Garcia could also provide a big boost.

Perez Garcia played in just six games after arriving at the club during the season because of injury, and his playmaking ability will be key for a side that finished with the second-fewest goals in MLS at just 35.

The goalkeeping situation is an area of uncertainty as the club will turn to either David Bingham or Bryan Meredith between the posts following the departure of veteran Jon Busch, who started all 34 games in the league last season.

There are plenty of questions surrounding San Jose as the club enters the 2015 season, but one thing is for sure, and that is the club’s belief in Kinnear.

“You can tell [from] the way he carries himself, the way he gives instructions, that he’s confident and he knows what he’s doing,“ midfielder Shea Salinas said of Kinnear. “And that comes across in the way we train and the way we’re going to play. There’s no doubt or hesitation when he tells you to do something. He knows how he likes it and he knows what’s successful.“

ACQUISITIONS: Leandro Barrera (M), Mark Sherrod (F), Marvell Wynne (D), Sanna Nyassi (M), Innocent Emeghara (F).

LOSSES: Jason Hernandez (D), Jon Busch (GK), Andreas Gorlitz (D), Atiba Harris (M), Yannick Djalo (M), Sam Cronin (M).

OUTLOOK: With so much room for improvement from last season, Kinnear should at least see some promising signs that his team is better than last year’s version. The question, however, is how much better? If Emeghara can form an effective partnership with Wondolowski, San Jose will be a much more dangerous side in front of goal. And the hope is that a full season with Perez Garcia will only help produce goals. However, there are questions between the posts with Busch leaving as well as the back line after the departures of Hernandez and Andreas Gorlitz. The midfield will also have new faces without Cronin and Atiba Harris, which adds up to a lot of uncertainty. Kinnear may well be the right man for the job, but it’s unlikely he will see immediate results, which probably means a third straight year without a playoff appearance.


►  ‘15 Season Preview: SKC aims to regain form in 2015

For the first time since 2011 last year’s Eastern Conference final did not include Sporting Kansas City. And with the club moving to the Western Conference in 2015, it won’t this year either.

But in order for Sporting to bounce back after a disappointing end to the 2014 campaign, head coach Peter Vermes will need to rely on a few key newcomers to fill big roles in 2015.

One of those players is goalkeeper Luis Marin, a Chile international who joins Sporting in the hopes that he can become the solid presence in goal the club missed last season following the departure of Jimmy NielSenator

Following Nielsen’s retirement at the end of the 2013 season, Eric Kronberg, Andy Gruenebaum and Jon Kempin each made multiple appearances in goal for Sporting, with each struggling to provide the type of steadying influence Nielsen gave the team.

Vermes, however, thinks Marin has some of the qualities of his former netminder, and he is hopeful that the Chilean can solidify his place in the team.

“There’s no doubt that Luis has strong leadership qualities,“ Vermes told MLSsoccer.com. “He’s very demanding, which is a great quality to have within the team with any player, and especially in that position. He’s also a really class guy, so he kind of backs it all up with the way he is off the field, which is great within the locker room. I think it all comes naturally for him. It’s great, because I think we’ve added somebody that has a lot of the same characteristics as Jimmy had from that point of view.“

If Marin can be the type of player Vermes hopes he is, he will provide a big boost to the defense, which lost one of its leaders in 2013 MLS Cup MVP Aurelien Collin, who was traded to Orlando City SC in a salary cap move.

The club acquired Jalil Anibaba and Canada international Marcel De Jong to help fill that role, but Collin’s departure still leaves questions surrounding the back four, especially with Matt Besler returning from injury.

In midfield the club returns Graham Zusi and Benny Feilhaber after strong seasons, while it welcomes back Roger Espinoza after a two-year stint with Wigan in England.

Espinoza, along with Zusi and Feilhaber, give Sporting a formidable midfield, while the additions of Bernando Anor and Servando Carrasco give Vermes quality depth in that area.

Sporting will be strong going forward in the midfield, but the big question is who will replace Uri Rosell as the holding midfielder in front of the back four.

The departure of Rosell in midseason certainly had something to do with Sporting’s struggles at the end of last season and the club is even weaker up the middle without Collin.

Dom Dwyer certainly made a name for himself last season by scoring 24 goals across all competitions and he could get some help from new signing Krisztian Nemeth, who netted eight goals with six assists for Roda in the Dutch Eredivisie last season.

If Nemeth can effectively partner Dwyer, Sporting has the chance to have a strong one-two punch up top, and one that will be well supported from the likes of Zusi, Espinoza and Feilhaber.

Better balance offensively could help Sporting avoid the type of collapse at the end of the last that cost the club another deep playoff run as the team won just two of its final 10 regular season games before going out to Red Bull New York in the knockout round.

There has been some considerable turnover at the club since then, but Dwyer is excited about the new faces that have joined the team.

“Obviously you make changes in football, people go on different adventures, but we have a lot of new guys coming in that are great additions. It’s going to be a good side. We have so many players right now and so many options. It’s exciting times ahead. We have guys who are expected to do well and we have guys coming out of nowhere who are doing well. So it’s an exciting group to play with.“

ADDITIONS: Bernardo Anor (M), Jalil Anibaba (D), Servando Carrasco (M), Krisztian Nemeth (F), Roger Espinoza (M), Luis Marin (GK).

LOSSES: Lawrence Olum (M), Soony Saad (F), Aurelien Colllin (D), C.J. Sapong (F), Sal Zizzo (M), Andy Gruenebaum (GK), Claudio Bieler (F).

OUTLOOK: The departure of Rosell was tough to deal with for Sporting last season, and it’s no surprise the team began to fall apart defensively after he left for Sporting Lisbon. And when you take into account Collin’s departure, this team could be a bit soft up the middle. If Nemeth can take some of the scoring load off of Dwyer it would improve Sporting’s attack, while Espinoza will add to the already dangerous midfield duo of Zusi and Feilhaber. If Marin can come close to giving Sporting the kind of play in goal the club enjoyed with Nielsen, it will be a huge help, but it is also a lot to ask. Sporting won’t be helped by a move to the tougher Western Conference as teams like Los Angeles, Seattle, Real Salt Lake and Vancouver figure to be strong postseason candidates. A playoff spot is certainly within reach, but don’t expect much more with so many questions still looming around this team.


►  ‘15 Season Preview: NYCFC aims high in inaugural season

The 2015 season marks the beginning of a new era, both for Major League Soccer and for New York City sports as New York City Football Club will make its debut.

Since the inception of the league, the only New York-area team has been Red Bull New York, and similarly to the NFL’s Jets and Giants, the Red Bulls play in New Jersey.

Now, New York City will have its own team to challenge the Red Bulls and instantly create what will likely be one of the best rivalries in the league going forward.

10 years ago, expectations for expansion teams in MLS were fairly low. The goal was simply to remain competitive, but given the growth of the league, expectations for NYC and their expansion counterparts, Orlando City Soccer Club, will be sky high.

In the current climate of world football, following the money usually leads to success and NYCFC certainly have plenty of it. The club is jointly owned by City Football Group—the owners of Manchester City in the Premier League—and MLB’s New York Yankees.

City Football Group holds a 75% ownership stake, while the Yankees hold a 25% stake. With that kind of financial backing, the club has been able to attract both a top-class head coach as well as several world-class players.

At the helm will be former Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis, who led RSL to an MLS Cup title in 2009. Kreis took a step back from MLS after leaving RSL and spent the better part of a year in England watching the coaching methods of Manchester City in order to hone his tactics.

On the field, the club will roll out plenty of talent, including European stars David Villa, Frank Lampard and U.S. national teamer Mix Diskerud.

Villa, 35, was the club’s first-ever signing when he arrived in the Big Apple on a free transfer from La Liga champions Atletico Madrid in June. Villa brings world-class talent and will thrive up top by himself or with a striker partner.

Lampard, the former Chelsea legend, is likely to arrive in July after the conclusion of the Premier League season. Lampard is currently playing for Manchester City, and there has been some confusion as to whether he will actually be coming to New York.

But the 36-year-old London native reassured NYC fans in January that he will be with the club in the summer.

“I want to make it completely clear about my situation as I have read a lot of lies and nonsense over the last few days,“ Lampard said in a statement. “When released from Chelsea last year at the end of my contract I signed a commitment to play in NYCFC for two years starting January 1 2015. I was then offered the chance to train and be part of the Man City squad in the interim to keep myself in the best shape going into New York.

“This period has since been extended by Man City and I now will start playing for NYCFC at the end of this current Premier League season. There has always been a constant dialogue between all parties in this time to find the best solution for everyone.“

Diskerud, 24, came to New York on a free transfer from Norwegian side Rosenborg after the club moved up to the No. 1 spot in the league’s allocation rankings.

Diskerud has been capped 25 times for the U.S. men’s team as his star continues to rise, and he should jump right into a No. 10 role with NYCFC.

“Mix is a dynamic midfielder who will easily fit into the style we want to play here in New York City. He keeps possession well and gets everyone involved with his passing range,“ said NYCFC sporting director Claudio Reyna.

“New York City FC have made my wish as an American a reality by giving me the opportunity to play and live in the U.S.,“ Diskerud said.

In addition to those three stars, Kreis and Reyna have assembled a team rife with former RSL players and serviceable MLS veterans.

Midfielders Ned Grabavoy and Sebastian Velasquez, goalkeeper Josh Saunders and defender Kwame Watson-Siriboe should mesh immediately with NYC as they all played for Kreis at RSL.

The club also boasts several reliable veterans in defenders Jeb Brovsky, Jason Hernandez and George John, while Andrew Jacobson, who has had MLS stints with D.C. United, Philadelphia Union and FC Dallas, will help keep possession in the middle of the park.

With several high-caliber stars, plenty of MLS talent and outstanding head coach, the pressure will be on NYCYC to succeed right out of the gate. An MLS Cup title in their first season, might be aiming a little too high, but certainly a playoff appearance will be expected.

KEY PLAYERS: David Villa (F), Frank Lampard (M), Mix Diskerud (M), Ned Grabavoy (M), Patrick Mullins (F).

OUTLOOK: Given the financial power of this club, expectations will be sky high from the outset. With Villa, Lampard and Diskerud, as well as Kreis patrolling the touch line, NYCFC should have a good season. It’s unlikely they’ll win MLS Cup in their first year, but anything less than a playoff appearance will likely be considered a failure.


►  ‘15 Season Preview: Curtin ready to lead Union to postseason

Since entering Major League Soccer as an expansion franchise in 2010, the Philadelphia Union have been running on the dreaded treadmill of mediocrity.

The club has made the postseason once and been close, but just shy, each of the past two seasons. With head coach Jim Curtin starting his first full season on the job, Union fans an players alike will be hoping the 35-year-old can lead his hometown club to its second playoff appearance.

Under former head coach John Hackworth, the 2014 incarnation of the Union started the season brightly by earning a point away from home against Portland, but as the first few months of the season passed, the developed a harrowing trend of conceding late goals and coughing up valuable points.

A trend which eventually cost Hackworth his job as he was relieved of his duties by the Union following a 3-3 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps just prior to the World Cup break.

Curtin took over and has the team in position to make the postseason, but the team struggled down the stretch, fell out of playoff position and was ultimately eliminated from the playoffs following a 3-2 loss to Columbus in which the team surrendered a 2-0 lead with 10 minutes to play.

But there is always renewed hope in the dawning of a new season.

One of the bright spots from the Union’s inconsistent 2014 campaign was the much-improved midfield with U.S. international Maurice Edu, Vincent Nogueira and Cristian Maidana. All three players will return in 2015 which should give the Union one of the best midfields in the league.

With Edu and Nogueira holding down the defensive midfield spots in Curtin’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation, Maidana should thrive in his No. 10 creative midfield spot, while fan-favorite Sebastien Le Toux and Andrew Wenger on the wings.

Edu arrived on the banks of the Delaware River last season on a one-year loan from Premier League side Stoke City, but he will remain with the Union for the new next few seasons after signing a multi-year permanent deal.

“Mo is an extremely important player to our organization and we’re excited that he will be in Philadelphia for the foreseeable future,“ said Union technical director Chris Albright. “We look forward to him helping lead us toward building a winning team.“

With Union original Amobi Okugo gone to Orlando City and veteran Brian Carroll resigned to a substitute role, Edu will likely wear the captain’s armband this season.

Along the back four, the biggest bright spot from last season was Raymon Gaddis, who was deployed as a left back and established himself as one the best one-on-one defenders in the league, carving out his own version of “Gaddis island” on his side of the field.

In central defense, the Union loaned Carlos Valdes to Uruguayan side Nacional and replaced him with Steven Vitoria, who was acquired on loan from Portuguese side Benfica. He will likely pair with Ethan White, while Sheanon Williams will man the right back spot.

One of the biggest needs for the Union to fill this offseason was finding a true striker, a position which all teams covet but find difficult to fill. For Philadelphia, the club enters 2015 with some nice depth up front.

Former Sporting Kansas City forward C.J. Sapong was brought over in a trade, while Venezuelan international Fernando Aristeguieta arrived on a one-year loan from French side FC Nantes.

“We’re very excited to add Fernando to our roster,“ Albright said. “He adds a different quality up front and has experience at both the international and club levels. He’s a player with a very bright future and we look forward to him having an immediate impact as we approach the season.“

Aristeguieta and Sapong should provide the club with some good offensive punch, while Algerian international goalkeeper Rais M’Bolhi will be between the sticks in place of Zac MacMath, who was loaned to the Colorado Rapids.

But possibly the most interesting player for the Union heading into the season is midfielder/forward Dzenen Catic.

Catic, a player whom many projected to be a first-round talent, fell to the Union at No. 31 in this year’s draft and could wind up being the steal of the draft.

At 6-foot-3, 185 pounds Catic possess excellent size and quick feet. In two seasons at Davenport University, Catic scored an impressive 63 goals and led his team to an NAIA title.

“When Catic fell into our lap, we were shocked,“ Curtin said. “That part worked out very well. He’s a guy who brings some size, he’s very good in front of goal. I was talking with a lot of other coaches at the combine and they saw him as one of the top players—not just the top forward. He’s a kid who’s an underdog, a kid who I’m high on.“

Looking at Philadelphia’s starting 11, there’s enough quality to compete with anyone in MLS, and with Sapong coming off the bench along with Catic and veteran Conor Casey, there’s also plenty of depth for Curtin to call upon.

The talent is there, the onus now falls on the young Curtin to display proper man and game management. If he does, the Union should have an excellent shot to reach the postseason in an Eastern Conference which no longer contains Houston or Sporting Kansas City.

2014 IN REVIEW: The Union started out well, taking points from difficult away matches, but the conceded far too many goals and coughed up far too many points. Eventually those lost points cost the Union a playoff spot as the club finished in sixth place in the East with 42 points, missing the playoffs for the third consecutive year and finishing seven points behind fifth-place Sporting Kansas City.

ACQUISITIONS: C.J. Sapong (F), Dzenan Catic (F/M), Fernando Aristeguieta (F), Steven Vitoria (D).

LOSSES: Amobi Okugo (M), Zac MacMath (GK), Pedro Ribeiro (F/M), Carlos Valdes (D), Aaron Wheeler (F), Brian Brown (F).

OUTLOOK: Riding that aforementioned treadmill is a difficult spot in which to be, but there is plenty of talent on this roster, enough that making the postseason is a realistic goal for a young head coach in his first full season. Edu, Maidana and Nogueira can be part of a dominant midfield, while Aristeguieta and Sapong certainly provide plenty of fire power up front. Losing Valdes along the back line hurts, but Vitoria should be an ample replacement. Catic remains the wildcard in the equation, but with an extra team making the postseason this year, Philadelphia should be in the conversation all season.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Atletico, Valencia clash at Vicente Calderon

Defending La Liga champions Atletico Madrid will aim to snap a winless slide on Sunday when the club welcomes Valencia to the Vicente Calderon.

It’s been a bit of a tough go for the champions over the past couple weeks as the club heads into Sunday’s clash riding a two-match winless run across all competitions following a 1-0 loss to Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen in Champions League play and a scoreless draw against Sevilla in league play last week.

Hakan Calhanoglu scored the lone tally in the 57th minute for Leverkusen and Tiago was shown a second yellow card with 14 minutes to play as the Bundesliga side heads to the Vicente Calderon for the second leg with the lead.

“We tied against a great team such as Sevilla and in a difficult match but, above all, it didn’t cut points in the ranking,“ said defender Jesus Gamez. “We know that Valencia is closer and it will also be a difficult match, but we have the support of our fans and the team’s eagerness for that moment to arrive.“

“We’re a team with a very united group, especially with the coach. We’re training well and all the players are needed at this time. And the union of the group is essential.“

Depending on other results this weekend, a win for Atletico could take the club to within two points of Barcelona for second place in La Liga. Valencia, meanwhile, will be hoping for three points to jump ahead of Atletico into third place.

Also in La Liga on Sunday, Barcelona will shoot for a fourth consecutive win in league play when the Catalans take on Rayo Vallecano at the Camp Nou.

Coming off a 3-1 win over Villarreal in the Copa del Rey during the week, a win for Barcelona would take the club to 62 points.

David Moyes’ Real Sociedad will try to bounce back from a 2-0 defeat to Valencia with a victory over Espanyol at the Estadio Municipal de Anoeta, while Villarreal battles Celta Vigo at the El Madrigal.

On Saturday, leaders Real Madrid will try to extend its unbeaten run across all competitions to five matches when Los Blancos face Athletic Bilbao at the San Mames.

“Winning against Athletic in San Memes is always difficult”,Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti said. “Maybe we are not at 100% but I have belief in these players.“

In last year’s fixture, Cristiano Ronaldo was sent off as Bilbao forced a 1-1 draw, and Ancelotti will be without first-team regulars James Rodriguez, Sergio Ramos, Sami Khedira and Luka Modric through injury.

Also Saturday, Deportivo hosts Sevilla, Elche battles Almeria and Granada hosts Malaga.

Monday’s action sees Cordoba host Getafe, while on Friday Levante topped Eibar by a 2-1 score.


►  Hamburg hopes to slow streaking Dortmund

Hamburg hosts Borussia Dortmund on Saturday with the club perched just above the relegation places and having earned one point from its last three Bundesliga games.

Dortmund, meanwhile, seems to finally be rounding into form a terrible first half of the season as Jurgen Klopp’s men have won their last four games in league play.

But Hamburg manager Josef Zinnbauer will bring some confidence into Saturday’s fixture because his side has managed to be a thorn in the side of Dortmund in recent years.

Hamburg has won four of the last five meetings between the teams, including a 1-0 win at Dortmund in October.

Pierre-Michel Lasogga scored the lone goal in October for Hamburg and he is back in contention for a place in the side after recovering from injury, as is Ivica Olic and Valon Behrami.

There will be a few absences in defense for Hamburg, however, as both Slobodan Rajkovic (injured) and Matthias Ostrzolek (suspended) will not be available.

Dortmund’s recent resurgence has lifted the club out of the relegation zone and to within eight points of a Champions League spot, and Klopp’s men will be eager to erase their struggles against Hamburg to continue their chase.

A 3-0 derby win over Schalke last weekend was followed by a midweek victory over Dynamo Dresden in the Pokal Cup to book the side a spot in the quarterfinals.

The only thing that took the shine off those wins was the fact that winger Marco Reus was forced off the field in Tuesday’s win because of leg injury.

Leaders Bayern Munich visit Hannover with the club sitting eight points clear of second-place Wolfsburg, which travels to Augsburg on Saturday.

Monchengladbach visits mid-table Mainz as the team attempts to keep hold of its top-three place, while fourth-place Bayer Leverkusen travels to relegation-battling Paderborn with Leverkusen having won just once in their last four games.

Werder Bremen visits Freiburg, Schalke hosts Hoffenheim and Eintracht battles Cologne.

In Friday’s match, Stuttgart and Hertha Berlin battled to a 0-0 draw, leaving Stuttgart on the bottom of the league while Hertha moves two points above the relegation places.


►  PSG aims to extend unbeaten run against Lens

Paris Saint-Germain will aim to extend their unbeaten run across all competitions to 14 matches on Saturday when the club welcomes Lens to the Parc des Princes.

The two-time defending Ligue 1 champions have been in outstanding form of late, but will look to get back to winning ways in league play following a scoreless draw against rivals Monaco.

PSG entered the contest without suspended forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, while Lucas Moura missed out through injury.

However, the visitors were still dangerous, and Ezequiel Lavezzi missed a great chance in the 25th minute when he badly scuffed a volley from six yards after the ball was nodded down by Blaise Matuidi.

Edinson Cavani was next to be wasteful at the end of the opening half for PSG as he failed to hit the target after some good work from Matuidi and Javier Pastore.

Pastore had the next good chance in the second half as he combined with Marco Verratti to go through on goal, only to see his shot go narrowly wide of the net.

Monaco seemed content with a point as the game came to a close and the hosts were very cautious, giving PSG no further looks at goal.

But Les Parisiens took some revenge on Monaco by knocking the principality club out of the Coupe de France in midweek with a 2-0 win.

David Luiz opened the scoring after three minutes, while Cavani added the insurance tally minutes into the second half.

Lens, meanwhile, enters the clash in desperate need of points as the club is in 19th place on 22 points. They will need to string several quality results together if they hope to avoid relegation.

Last time out the club saw its winless run in league play extended to nine matches with a 1-0 loss to Rennes. The lone tally came in the 36th minute through Abdoulaye Doucoure.

Also in Ligue 1 on Saturday, Bastia hosts Nice, Caen battles Bordeaux, Evian tangles with Monaco, Reims hosts Nantes and Rennes battles Metz.

On Sunday, league leaders Lyon travel to the Stade de la Mosson to face Montpellier. Coming off a 2-1 loss to Lille last time out, Lyon will need three points if they hope to maintain their charge for a Ligue 1 title.

Guingamp welcomes Lille to the Stade du Roudourou hoping for a second straight win across all competitions after a 2-1 win against Concarneau in the Coupe de France, while Saint Etienne will try to jump back into the top four with a win over Lorient at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.

On Friday, Marseille jumped into second place in Ligue 1 with a comfortable 6-1 rout of Toulouse, powered by a brace from Michy Batshuayi.


►  Hellas Verona strikes late to draw Milan

AC Milan conceded a late equalizer to drop two points in a 2-2 draw with Hellas Verona.

Luca Toni had given the visitors the lead by converting a penalty kick in the 18th minute, but Jeremy Menez answered from the spot just four minutes before the break.

The hosts wasted little time in getting in front upon the restart, but they needed a bit of fortune as an own goal from Panagiotis Tachtsidis in the 47th minute gave Milan the lead.

It looked as if Milan would close out the match with the win intact, but Nicolas Lopez struck on the stroke of full time to earn Verona a share of the spoils.

The result sees Milan stay in 10th place in the Serie A table with 35 points. Hellas Verona climbs to 13th place with 29 points.

Sampdoria, meanwhile, went level with Fiorentina on 42 points apiece after cruising to a 2-0 home defeat of Cagliari.

Lorenzo De Silvestri opened the scoring in the 33rd minute before Samuel Eto’o wrapped up the win in the 72nd with his first goal for the Italian club. Danilo Fernando Avelar picked up a late red card to leave Cagliari with no way back.


►  Fiorentina ousts Tottenham from Europa League

Tottenham was bounced from the Europa League on Thursday after suffering a 2-0 loss at Fiorentina, bowing out of the competition by a 3-1 aggregate score.

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino deployed a slightly weakened side with one eye on Sunday’s Capital One Cup final, but Roberto Soldado nearly rewarded his boss for a rare start when he broke free on goal midway through the opening period. The Spaniard beat the offside trap but elected to play a square pass to Nacer Chadli instead of going for goal, a decision that allowed Fiorentina goalkeeper Neto to smother the ball.

The English club was punished for the missed opportunity as Mario Gomez broke the deadlock in the 54th minute. Latching on to a through ball that split the Tottenham defense, the German striker drifted across Federico Fazio and slipped a shot past Hugo Lloris for the telling goal.

Mohamed Salah put the result on ice in the 71st when the former Chelsea man pounced on Jan Vertonghen’s poor touch and hammered a shot into the roof of the net.

Liverpool, meanwhile, suffered a 1-0 defeat at Besiktas on Thursday to force penalties, which the English club lost following Dejan Lovren’s miss from the spot.

Tolgay Arslan scored a long-distance goal in the 73rd minute to level the aggregate score, and after a scoreless period of extra time, netted the go- ahead goal in the requisite penalty shootout. Lovren stepped up with a chance to force additional penalties, but the Croatian defender sent his attempt well wide of the post.

Romelu Lukaku continued his scoring tear on Thursday by netting a brace in Everton’s 3-1 defeat of Young Boys.

The Belgian produced a hat trick in the opening leg, but his two-goal performance at Goodison helped the Toffees advance behind a 7-2 aggregate score.

After a 3-3 draw in the first leg, Inter Milan edged Celtic, 1-0, at the San Siro on Thursday to advance behind Fredy Guarin’s late strike.

Ajax, meanwhile, cruised as Arkadiusz Milik bagged a brace in a 3-0 defeat of Legia Warsaw.

Zenit advanced under similar circumstances as Jose Salomon Rondon scored twice in the Russian club’s 3-0 victory over PSV Eindhoven.

Borussia Monchengladbach departed the Europa League following a 3-2 home loss to Sevilla on Thursday while Dinamo Moscow’s 3-1 victory over Anderlecht was enough to see the Russian through to the next round.

Villarreal advanced comfortably with a 3-1 win at Red Bull Salzburg on Thursday, Club Brugge claimed a 3-0 victory over AaB to ease into the next round and Jonathan De Guzman netted the lone goal in Napoli’s 1-0 defeat of Trabzonspor.

A 0-0 draw at Sporting Lisbon was enough to see Wolfsburg through after the German club had claimed a 2-0 win on home soil, and Torino earned a 3-2 victory to edge Athletic Bilbao, 5-4, on aggregate.

Finally, Roma claimed a 2-1 win over Feyenoord to get past the Dutch side by a 3-2 aggregate score.


►  Zwolle smashes Cambuur

Zwolle ran out to a convincing victory at the IJsseldelta Stadion on Saturday, smashing Cambuur in a 6-1 result.

The hosts took a two-goal lead by halftime thanks to goals from Jesper Drost and Maikel van der Werf in the 29th and 34th minutes, respectively.

Ryan Thomas made it three just after the hour mark, but the remainder of the match belonged to hat trick artist Stefan Nijland, beginning with his penalty kick in the 70th minute.

Mikhail Rosheuvel pulled one back for Cambuur five minutes later, but Nijland ensured the convincing victory by adding goals in the 79th and 88th minutes.

The win lifts Zwolle to fifth place in the Eredivisie table by putting the club on 42 points.

PSV Eindhoven rebounded by a defeat to Ajax by picking up a 3-0 win at Go Ahead Eagles, restoring the club’s 14-point lead at the summit.

All three goals came in the opening period as Memphis Depay’ league-leading 16th goal, an own goal from Jop van der Linden and Andres Guardado’s first goal of the season helped PSV seal the win.

Also on Saturday, Luciano Slagveer netted the lone goal in Heerenveen’s 1-0 win at Den Haag while Denni Avdic struck at the death to help Heracles claim a point from a 1-1 draw with Vitesse.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Colts won’t re-sign Wayne

The Indianapolis Colts and wide receiver Reggie Wayne will part company.

The team said Friday it will not re-sign Wayne, who had spent each of his 14 NFL seasons in Indianapolis.

Wayne is the franchise leader with 211 regular-season games played. He is second in franchise history with 1,070 receptions, 14,345 receiving yards and 80 receiving touchdowns.

“Reggie is one of the greatest men to ever wear the horseshoe, and we have been blessed to watch him play for the past 14 years,“ said Colts owner Jim Irsay in a statement Friday. “When he first took the field with us in 2001, we knew this day would eventually arrive. That reality is one of the things that makes pro football such a tough business. We feel this decision is in the best interests of the team and for Reggie as it will allow him to seek a better opportunity for playing time elsewhere if he so chooses. Reggie is beloved by the Colts organization and our fans and he will always be a part of the Colts family. I look forward to the day in the near future when our great number 87 enters the Colts Ring of Honor and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.“

The Colts selected Wayne with the 30th overall pick of the 2001 NFL Draft. He has been selected to the Pro Bowl six times and helped the Colts to a Super Bowl title after the 2006 season.

“Everyone knows the greatness and history associated with No. 87,“ said Colts general manager Ryan Grigson. “He truly is one of a small handful of players who really define the Colts as an organization. His dedication and the example he set are second to none. We wish him nothing but the best in whatever new endeavor he pursues.“

The 36-year-old Miami-Florida product has had the benefit of playing with two great quarterbacks during his time with the Colts, first with Peyton Manning and then with Andrew Luck. He had seven straight 1,000-yard seasons with Manning, then struggled in 2011 when Manning was hurt, but finished with 106 receptions for 1,355 yards in 2012 during Luck’s rookie campaign.

“My relationship with Reggie goes back to my coaching days at the University of Miami,“ said Colts coach Chuck Pagano. “I am so grateful I had the chance to coach Reggie again when I arrived in 2012. It was a blessing to see the impact that he made with this organization and Colts fans around the world.“

Wayne played just seven games in 2013 because of an ACL injury, then returned last year and totaled 64 receptions for 779 yards with two touchdowns in 15 games.


►  Report: Bears send Marshall to Jets

The Chicago Bears have reportedly traded wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the New York Jets.

NFL.com, citing a source informed of the move, is reporting the trade. ESPN.com is also reporting the trade, which requires Marshall passing a physical.

It cannot become official until the new league year opens next Tuesday.

What the Bears are receiving in return for Marshall is not being reported.

Marshall racked up 721 yards and eight touchdowns on 61 catches last season.

A nine-year veteran, this will be Marshall’s fourth team. The five-time Pro Bowl selection has 773 career receptions for 9,771 yards with 65 touchdowns for Denver, Miami and Chicago.

►  Lions re-sign Prater

The Detroit Lions re-signed kicker Matt Prater to a three-year contract on Friday.

The Lions originally inked Prater during the 2014 season after he was released by the Denver Broncos following a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.

Detroit was in dire need of a kicker after Nate Freese and Alex Henery struggled during the first five games of the season.

An eight-year veteran, Prater played in 11 games last season with the Lions, connecting on 21-of-26 field goal attempts and all 21 point-after tries. For his career, he has hit 81.5% of his field goal attempts and 99.3% of his PATs.


►  Redskins keep TE Paul

The Washington Redskins have re-signed tight end Niles Paul.

Terms were not disclosed, but NFL.com reported it to be a three-year deal worth up to $10 million.

Paul started seven of the 16 games he played last season and finished with career highs of 39 catches for 507 yards with one touchdown.

The 25-year-old Nebraska product is a converted wide receiver. He has 53 career receptions for 735 yards with two touchdowns in four seasons with Washington.


►  Chiefs release DT Walker

The Kansas City Chiefs have released defensive tackle Vance Walker.

Walker spent the 2014 season with Kansas City and has also played for Oakland (2013) and Atlanta (2009-12) in a six-year career. He notched 19 tackles and two sacks during his lone season with the Chiefs.

The Georgia Tech product has 138 tackles with 10 sacks in 88 NFL games, including 28 starts.


►  Bears sign QB Clausen

The Chicago Bears signed quarterback Jimmy Clausen to a one-year extension on Friday, taking him through the 2015 season.

This will be Clausen’s second season with the Bears after completing 26-of-48 passing attempts for 223 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in four appearances (one start) for Chicago in 2014.

For his NFL career, Clausen is 183-of-347 passing for 1,781 yards with five touchdowns and 10 interceptions over 17 appearances with 11 starts in Carolina (2010-13) and Chicago (2014).


►  Jaguars re-sign DE Ryan Davis

The Jacksonville Jaguars re-signed defensive end Ryan Davis on Friday.

Davis, who made 19 tackles in 16 games last season, was re-signed as an exclusive rights free agent.

He has appeared in 24 games for Jacksonville since being signed as an undrafted free agent from Bethune-Cookman in 2012.


►  Panthers sign OT Michael Oher

The Carolina Panthers signed free-agent offensive tackle Michael Oher to a two-year contract on Friday.

Oher, 28, was waived by the Tennessee Titans last month after making 11 starts in his only season with the team. He was placed on injured reserve in December with a toe injury.

He started 80 consecutive games over five seasons with the Baltimore Ravens between 2009-13, then signed a four-year, $20 million deal with the Titans last offseason.

The 6-foot-4, 315-pound tackle has appeared in 10 playoff games and won a Super Bowl title with the Ravens in February 2013.


►  Jets re-sign LB David Harris

The New York Jets re-signed middle linebacker David Harris, the team announced Friday.

The deal is for three years and $21.5 million, with $15 million guaranteed, according to numerous reports.

Harris, 31, has spent all eight of his NFL seasons with the Jets since they drafted him in the second round in 2007, starting all 16 games in each of the last six seasons.

He had a team-high 123 tackles last season, the third consecutive year he reached at least that number. He added a career high-tying 5 1/2 sacks.

The sides reached a deal six days before Harris could have become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.

Harris, who signed a four-year, $36 million deal in August 2011, has 884 tackles, 30 sacks and six interceptions in 123 career NFL games, including 116 starts.


►  Steelers sign QB Tajh Boyd

The Pittsburgh Steelers signed former Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd to their offseason roster on Friday.

Boyd, 24, was taken in the sixth round of last year’s NFL Draft by the New York Jets but was cut by the team before the start of the season.

He passed for 11,904 yards and 107 touchdowns in 47 games over four seasons at Clemson.


►  Broncos tender LB Marshall, 2 other free agents

The Denver Broncos tendered three exclusive rights free agents on Friday, including linebacker Brandon Marshall.

Marshall finished his third NFL season with career highs of 113 tackles, two sacks and one interception over 14 games (13 starts) for the Broncos.

The 25-year-old Nevada product was a fifth-round choice of the Jaguars in 2012

Tackle Paul Cornick and guard Ben Garland were also tendered.

Cornick appeared in 12 games during his first season with Denver in 2014, after spending time on the Jets (2012) and Broncos (2012-13) practice squads.

Garland participated in eight regular season games and one playoff game last season after a two-year stint on the Broncos’ practice squad.


►  Chargers sign Jacoby Jones

Jacoby Jones has found a new home, with the free-agent wide receiver/return specialist agreeing to terms with the San Diego Chargers on a two-year contract Friday.

NFL.com reported the deal to be worth a maximum of $5.5 million.

Jones was released by Baltimore on February 25 in a cap-saving move. The eight- year veteran had spent the past three seasons with the Ravens and played a key role in the team’s 2012 championship run, scoring both a receiving touchdown and a 108-yard kickoff return score in Super Bowl XLVII.

One of the league’s most dangerous returners, Jones ranked among the NFL leaders last season with a 30.6 yards-per-return average on kickoffs and owns 10 career special-teams touchdowns. The 30-year-old had just nine catches for 131 yards on offense, however.

Jones joins a Chargers team that didn’t have a kick return of over 35 yards in 2014.

For his career, Jones has averaged 27.4 yards per kick return and 10.1 yards taking back punts. He was named first team All-Pro as a return man in 2012.


►  Seahawks terminate TE Miller’s contract

The Seattle Seahawks announced several roster moves on Friday, including the termination of tight end Zach Miller’s contract.

Miller had been signed to a $34 million contract with $17 million guaranteed over five years back in August of 2011.

His 2014 campaign was cut short due to an ankle injury which landed him on season-ending injured reserve in October. Before the setback, Miller posted 76 yards on six receptions in three games.

Miller ends his Seattle tenure having compiled 102 catches for 1,092 yards and eight TDs over 48 appearances.

In additional moves, the club signed defensive end Greg Scruggs to a one-year contract and waived tackle Garrett Scott and defensive tackle Jesse Williams.

Scruggs, a seventh-round pick of Seattle in 2012, has spent the majority of his career dealing with injury troubles. He participated in three games last season before winding up on IR. The Louisville product has seen action in 14 games for the team, totaling eight tackles and a pair of sacks.


►  Raiders release Nick Roach, Usama Young

The Oakland Raiders have released linebacker Nick Roach and safety Usama Young.

The Raiders made the moves Friday citing failed physicals for both players.

Roach signed with the Raiders prior to the 2013 season and started every game that year. But he missed the entire 2014 season with concussion symptoms.

The 29-year-old Roach originally entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2007 and has played in 96 games with the Bears and Raiders. The Northwestern product has 346 tackles, nine sacks and one interception.

Young played 18 games in two seasons with the Raiders. He ended both seasons on injured reserve.

The Raiders also released running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who announced his retirement on Twitter Thursday.


►  Extra Points: Lynch retires the retirement talk

You can’t say “Beast Mode” is back because he never really left.

Anyone who thought Marshawn Lynch might walk away from the NFL in the prime of his career was being a bit naive.

Yeah, Marshawn might march to the beat of a different drummer on a lot of issues but he conforms like the rest of us when it comes to the most important one of all—money.

The superstar was just looking for a better pay day and he got it on Friday when the Seahawks agreed to terms on a new deal which will put Lynch in rarified air when it comes to the running back position.

Lynch will reportedly be paid $12 million in 2015, with all of that guaranteed—$7.5 million in a signing bonus along with a $4.5 million base salary. His base salary increases to $9 million in 2016 and then ticks down a but to $7 million by ‘17 plus a $3 million roster bonus that will kick in on the fifth day of the league year.

Lynch was originally scheduled to make $7 million before the re-do in what was to be the final year of a four-year contract.

Like most NFL deals, the new agreement is a glorified one-year contract but it’s also a darn good one, especially in this era where running backs continue to be devalued.

If Lynch continues to perform at the level the Seahawks have become accustomed to, the mercurial one certainly will not be happy with the numbers on the back end of the deal and he will expect things to be revisited again in 365 days. And if the All-Pro falls off, Seattle can easily walk away from the final two years.

Lynch just finished another stellar season which ended in a bit of controversy when Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell eschewed giving his bell cow the ball at the goal-line in the waning seconds of Super Bowl XLIX, a decision that resulted in a game-stealing interception by the New England Patriots and cost Seattle a second straight Super Bowl crown.

“To be honest with you, I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I was expecting the ball,“ Lynch said in an interview with a Turkish media outlet. “Yes, I was expecting the ball. But in life, these things happen. Like I told a reporter after the game, it’s a team sport.“

And Lynch feels his team wanted Russell Wilson to be the hero, not an enigmatic Oakland native who loathes talking to the media.

Considering Lynch rushed for 17 touchdowns last season and amassed 1,306 yards—his fourth consecutive season with at least 1,200—it’s more than likely one more rushing attempt would have resulted in another Lombardi Trophy for the Seahawks,

“I had no problem with the decision of the playcalling,“ Lynch said. “I mean ... how do I say this? When you look at me, and you let me run that ball in ... I am the face of the nation. You know, MVP of the Super Bowl ... that’s pretty much the face of the nation at that point of time. I don’t know what went into that call. I mean, maybe it was a good thing that I didn’t get the ball. I mean, you know, it cost us the Super Bowl.“

It didn’t cost Lynch, however. In fact, it might have helped his side in negotiations because the Seahawks certainly weren’t buying the overhyped retirement talk.

Professional athletes have a very short window to make large sums of money and few have any intention of slamming the aperture shut before they are forced to.

Those who cite Jim Brown, perhaps the greatest running back in NFL history, who did walk away from the game at the at the apex of his career in 1965, fail to place any context to that, namely the fact that the financials have changed so drastically in the ensuing 50 years.

Hollywood was also calling Brown back in those days and it looked like the better long-term play for the legendary Hall of Famer.

Things sped up in ‘66 when Brown was shooting “The Dirty Dozen” overseas and weather-related production delays clashed with the start of Browns training camp. Then-Cleveland owner Art Modell threatened to fine Brown $1,500 for every week of camp he missed and the All-Pro simply walked away from the game.

Maybe if Lynch was cast in the sequel to “Guardians of the Galaxy,“ he might have paid something more than lip service to the idea of an AARP card.    ~~  John McMullen ~~


►  Lynch signs 2-year extension with Seahawks

“Beast Mode” is staying in Seattle.

Marshawn Lynch has decided to remain with the Seahawks, signing a two-year contract extension through the 2017 season, the team announced Friday.

The star running back signed a four-year, $31 million deal with the team in 2012, but reportedly restructured his contract for 2015 to $12 million and then added on the two additional years.

Lynch, who will turn 29 on April 22, was reportedly mulling retirement after Seattle’s shocking 28-24 loss to New England in the Super Bowl last month.

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was intercepted at the goal line in the closing seconds to seal Seattle’s fate against the Patriots. The play call was criticized, with detractors complaining that Lynch didn’t get the ball, costing the Seahawks a second straight Super Bowl crown.

“To be honest with you, I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I was expecting the ball,“ Lynch said in an interview with a Turkish media outlet. “Yes, I was expecting the ball. But in life, these things happen. Like I told a reporter after the game, it’s a team sport.“

Lynch, who got the nickname “Beast Mode” for his trademark powerful runs, rushed for a career-high 13 touchdowns last season and amassed 1,306 yards—his fourth consecutive season with at least 1,200 yards. He added four touchdown catches.

He rushed for 102 yards and a score in the Super Bowl.


►  LaRon Landry suspended 10 games for PEDs

LaRon Landry has tested positive for performance enhancing drugs for a second time in the last six months.

The free-agent safety was suspended 10 games without pay by the NFL for the latest positive test, a league spokesman said Friday.

Landry, who was released by the Indianapolis Colts last month, was suspended four games this past season over PEDs.

A second positive test generates an automatic 10-game suspension.

The 30-year-old had 47 tackles and 2 1/2 sacks in 11 games for the Colts, who saved more than $2 million in salary cap space by cutting the one-time Pro Bowl selection on February 11.

Landry had a career-high 100 tackles in his only season for the New York Jets in 2012 after playing his first five years in the league with the Washington Redskins. He has 617 tackles, eight sacks and six interceptions in 103 career NFL games.

The Gilmer Free Press


References
ABC - American Broadcasting Company
CBS - Columbia Broadcast System
FOX - Fox Entertainment Group
NBC - National Broadcasting Company
JIP - Joined in Progress
DSS - DIRECTV
TSN - Sports Network (Canada)
SNET/SN - Rogers SportsNet (Canada)
RDS - Reseau des sports
MSG - Madison Square Garden Network
TNT - Turner Network Television
TBS - Turner Broadcasting System
SNY - SportsNet New York
CBSSN - CBS - College Sports Network
CSN - Comcast SportsNet
TCN - The Comcast Network
NBCSN - NBC Sports Network
NESN - New England Sports Network
MASN - Mid-Atlantic Sports Network
ROOT - Root Sports (Pittsburgh, Northwest, Rocky Mountain)
CST - Cox Sports Television
FCS - FOX College Sports
FS - FOX Sports Regional
RSN - Regional Sports Networks
CPTV - Connecticut Public Broadcasting
TVG - Horse Racing Channel
FS1 - FOX Sports 1
TWC - Time Warner Cable Sports Channel
* - If Necessary


SUNDAY, MARCH 08, 2015
Major League Baseball - Spring Training
Baltimore vs. Minnesota, 1:05 PM - FS-North, MLB Network
Washington vs. NY Yankees, 1:05 PM - YES
Pittsburgh vs. Toronto, 1:07 PM - SNET
Boston vs. NY Mets, 1:10 PM - NESN, WPIX
Milwaukee vs. Los Angeles, 4:05 PM - SportsNet LA
Colorado vs. San Diego, 4:05 PM - FS-San Diego, MLB Network
Chicago WSox vs. Oakland, 4:05 PM - CSN-California
San Francisco vs. Arizona, 4:10 PM - FS-Arizona
National Basketball Association
Chicago at San Antonio, 1:00 PM - ABC
LA Clippers at Golden State, 3:30 PM - ABC
Boston at Orlando, 6:00 PM - CSN-New England, FS-Florida, DSS
Utah at Brooklyn, 6:00 PM - ROOT-Northwest, YES, NBA TV, DSS
Charlotte at Detroit, 6:00 PM - SportSouth, FS-Detroit, DSS
Toronto at Oklahoma City, 7:00 PM - TSN2, FS-Oklahoma, DSS
Dallas at LA Lakers, 9:30 PM - FS-Southwest, Time Warner, NBA TV, DSS
National Hockey League
Detroit at Boston, 12:30 PM - NBC
Edmonton at Carolina, 3:00 PM - SNET-West, FS-Carolina, DSS
Philadelphia at New Jersey, 5:00 PM - TCN-Philadelphia, MSG+, DSS
Colorado at Minnesota, 6:00 PM - Altitude, FS-North, DSS
Calgary at Ottawa, 7:00 PM - CITY, TVA, DSS
NY Rangers at Chicago, 7:30 PM - NBCSN
College Basketball
Memphis at Cincinnati, 12:00 PM - CBS
Big South Championship, 12:30 PM - ESPN 2
Penn State at Minnesota, 1:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Stony Brook at Vermont, 1:00 PM - ESPN3.com
New Hampshire at Albany, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Patriot League Tournament, 2:00 PM - CBSSN
MVC Championship, 2:05 PM - CBS
Atlantic Sun Championship, 2:30 PM - ESPN 2
CAA Tournament, 2:30 PM - NBCSN
Tulsa at SMU, 3:00 PM - ESPN U
East Carolina at Houston, 4:00 PM - ESPNews
Patriot League Tournament, 4:00 PM - CBSSN
Wisconsin at Ohio State, 4:30 PM - CBS
MAAC Tournament, 4:30 PM - ESPN3.com
CAA Tournament, 5:00 PM - NBCSN
Southern Tournament, 6:00 PM - ESPN3.com
South Dakota vs. IUPU-Ft Wayne, 7:00 PM - MidcoSN, ESPN3.com
MAAC Tournament, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Maryland at Nebraska, 7:30 PM - Big Ten Network
Southern Tournament, 8:30 PM - ESPN3.com
IUPUI vs. Oral Roberts, 9:30 PM - MidcoSN, ESPN3.com
Women’s College Basketball
MAAC Tournament, 11:00 AM - ESPN3.com
ACC Championship, 1:00 PM - ESPN
IUPUI vs. Western Illinois, 1:00 PM - ESPN3.com, MidcoSN
Atlantic 10 Championship, 1:00 PM - ESPN U
Southern Tournament, 1:00 PM - ESPN3.com
MAAC Tournament, 1:30 PM - ESPN3.com
AEC Tournament, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Big 12 Tournament, 2:30 PM - FS1
SEC Championship, 3:30 PM - ESPN
North Dakota State vs. Oral Roberts, 3:30 PM - ESPN3.com, MidcoSN
AEC Tournament, 4:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Big 12 Tournament, 5:00 PM - FS1
Big South Championship, 5:00 PM - ESPN3.com
AAC Tournament, 5:30 PM - ESPN U
Big East Tournament, 6:30 PM - FS2
Big Ten Championship, 7:00 PM - ESPN
AAC Tournament, 7:30 PM - ESPN U
Big East Tournament, 9:00 PM - FS1
Pac-12 Championship, 9:00 PM - ESPN
Major League Soccer
New York City at Orlando, 5:00 PM - ESPN2
Red Bull New York at Sporting Kansas City, 7:00 PM - FS1
New England at Seattle, 9:30 PM - FS1
International Soccer
FC Barcelona vs. Rayo Vallecano de Madrid, 5:55 AM - beIN Sports
AC ChievoVerona vs. AS Roma, 8:55 AM - beIN Sports
Real Sociedad de Futbol vs. RCD Espanyol, 10:55 AM - beIN Sports
Liverpool vs. Blackburn, 12:00 PM - FS1
AS Saint-Etienne vs. FC Lorient, 1:00 PM - beiN Sports
SSC Napoli vs. FC Internazionale Milano, 2:40 PM - beIN Sports
Golf
EUROPEAN - Africa Open, 7:30 AM - Golf Channel
PGA - WGC Cadillac Championship, 1:00 PM - Golf Channel
PGA - WGC Cadillac Championship, 3:00 PM - NBC, Golf Channel
Auto Racing
Sprint Cup - Kobalt 400, 3:00 PM - FOX

Sports News   150307

The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  Area High Schools Boys Basketball Sectional Game Results

(Friday, March 06)

Lewis County 52     Buckhannon-Upshur 33


►  Area High Schools Girls Basketball Regional Schedule

(Saturday, March 07)


Class “AA” Region 1:
(12-11)Ritchie County at (21-2) Fairmont Senior, 1:00

Class “AA” Region 2:
(11-9)Frankfort at (17-5)Lincoln, 1:00
(15-7)Bridgeport at (21-2)Keyser, 1:00

Class “A” Region 1:
(13-9)Trinity at (20-3)Wheeling Central Catholic, 1:00

Class “A” Region 2:
(9-10)Pendleton County at (18-2)Tucker County, 1:00
(12-10)Notre Dame at (16-4)Pocahontas County, 2:00

Class “A” Region 4:
(16-6)Gilmer County at (16-5)Huntington Saint Joseph’s - 1:00


►  Area High Schools Boys Basketball Regional Schedule

(Saturday, March 07)

Class “AAA” Region 1, Section 1:
(17-5)Preston at (19-4)Morgantown - 7:00

Class “AAA” Region 2, Section 2:
(12-9)Lewis County at (12-6)Hampshire - 4:00

Class “AA” Region 1, Section 1:
(14-9)Oak Glen at (19-2)Fairmont Senior - 6:00

Class “AA” Region 2, Section 1:
(15-5)Robert C. Byrd at (20-2)Bridgeport - 7:00

Class “A” Region 1, Section 2 (at Doddridge County High School):
(11-12)Trinity vs. (10-12)Paden City - 6:00
(11-10)Valley Wetzel vs. (16-4)Saint Marys - 7:45

Class “A” Region 2, Section 1:
(17-5)Tucker County vs. (15-7)Notre Dame at Elkins High School - 7:00

Class “A” Region 4, Section 1:
(18-4)Gilmer County at (21-2)Williamstown - 7:00



The Gilmer Free Press

►  MEC Men’s Basketball Tournament: Fairmont State 71-Notre Dame 57‏

Jamel Morris drained nine three-pointers to lead Fairmont State to a 71-57 win over Notre Dame College in the quarterfinals of the Mountain East Conference Tournament.

“I’m confident going into every game,“ Morris said. “With our inside presence with players like Thomas Wimbush and Nick Harney—they’re great scorers in the paint, so players and teams collapse on them and that gives shots for players like me and Chase (Morgan) and today it was working to our advantage.“

“We got out to Morris, but he had nine threes—the kid played great,“ Notre Dame head coach Tim Koenig said. “He played absolutely great.“


Morris finished the game with 32 points to pace FSU (20-9). Thomas Wimbush scored 17 points and pulled down nine rebounds, and Nick Harney posted a double-double with 12 points and 10 boards.

“We thought the game would go exactly how it was played,“ FSU head coach Jerrod Calhoun said. “We held them to 57 points, so if we play defense like that and take care of the ball, we’re really good.“

NDC (15-14) was led by 15 points apiece from Tyree Gaiter and Lawrence DeArmond. Will Vorhees chipped in 10 points.

Morris drained nine of FSU’s 10 threes in the game, while Notre Dame managed to shoot just 4-of-16 from behind the arc.

Fairmont State led by nine at the break and pushed its lead to as many as 11 with just under 12 minutes to play. Notre Dame got back into the game with an 8-0 run in just two minutes, but Morris had the answer to stop the run with a three-pointer. NDC could get no closer than six the rest of the way.


►  MEC Women’s Basketball Tournament: Wheeling Jesuit 73-Concord 70‏

Third-seeded Concord and sixth-seeded Wheeling Jesuit went after each other like a pair of prize fighters hereFriday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the Mountain East Conference Basketball Tournament at the Charleston Civic Center.

When the dust settled it was Wheeling which emerged with a thrilling 73-70 victory and earned the right to advance to Saturday’s semifinal round where the Cardinals will face second-seeded Fairmont State at 8:15 PMThe Falcons eliminated seventh-seeded Notre Dame in the day’s first game, 71-57.

“This was a big win for us,“ said WJU coach Dan Sancomb, whose team improved to 21-9. “We beat a very good basketball team. It was a gut check for us. We can get hot and shoot the ball very well and they can defend exceptionally well, so we knew it was going to be a struggle. Our guys, though, just really fought. They did a great job of bringing toughness which was needed to win a game like this.“


The loss dropped Concord to 20-9 and likely put an end to the Mountain Lions’ season. Concord was ranked eighth in the latest NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional Rankings.

“If you look at the last 16 games I think we were two of the hotter teams in the league,“ said Concord coach Kent McBride. “Even though they drew a six seed I personally think they’re the second or third-best team in this league.

“Our guys knew going in this was going to be a battle and it was going to be a game where every possession matters. No team was going to get away from the other. We also knew it was going to be a game of runs which it was. We made the last one, but time just ran out on us. Tough game, but congratulations to Jesuit.“

Neither team led by more than eight in the contest which featured 10 ties and six lead changes and the outcome literally wasn’t decided until the final buzzer sounded.

After Wheeling’s Justin Fritz hit a pair of free throws to put his team ahead 73-70 with 8.5 seconds left the Cardinals elected to foul the Mountain Lions near mid-court and put Mike Boyd on the line for a pair of free throws instead of risking a made 3-pointer by Concord with 5.9 seconds left in regulation.

“Concord has made 10 threes on us two different times this season and we didn’t want to give them the chance to hit a game-tying one there,“ said Sancomb.

Boyd, however, missed his first free throw and then intentionally missed the second which allowed Concord to tip the rebound out, control it and call timeout with 2.2 seconds left to play. Jametrius Wade, who finished with 19 points, took the inbounds pass for the Mountain Lions and got a good look at a potential game-tying three from about 22-feet out at the top of the key but his shot bounced off of the back iron of the rim as the final horn sounded.

“He got a good look, but coming into the game he was 2-of-15 on 3-pointers for the season so if we were going to give anyone a good look he’s the guy we wanted to have it,“ said Sancomb.

“I know my numbers don’t say it, but I’m capable of making that shot,“ said Wade. “I practice it every day.

“I knew when we inbounded it that they would probably be face-guarding Rob (Reed) and Aaron (Miller). I first looked to pass, but they were defending the passing lanes. I knew I only had two seconds so I took a dribble and shot it. I thought it was going in, but it was a little too long.“

The win was the 15th in the last 17 games for Wheeling. It also halted Concord’s six-game winning streak.

Freshman forward Haywood Highsmith led the Cardinals with 19 points and 14 rebounds.

“My goal coming down here was to try to help my team win a Mountain East Conference championship,“ said Highsmith, who got his fifth double-double performance of the season. “As a team we’re playing well right now. We just want to make a run.“

Wheeling also got 14 points from Fritts, 13 from Matt Stewart 10 from Eric Seifert and eight points and 10 rebounds from Kyle Ritz.

Concord’s Rob Reed led all scorers with 26 points. The Mountain Lions also got 13 points from Aaron Miller.


►  MEC Men’s Basketball Tournament: West Liberty 89-Shepherd 75‏

Top-seeded and No. 4 ranked West Liberty grabbed the lead four seconds into its Mountain East Conference Basketball Tournament quarterfinal round game with eighth-seeded Shepherd here Friday evening at the Charleston Civic Center and never looked back en route to an 89-75 victory.

The win, the 12th in a row for the Hilltoppers, improved them to 26-2 and earns them a berth in Saturday’s semifinals at 6 PM

The Hilltoppers’ relentless pressure defense forced 10 early Ram turnovers and helped aid in West Liberty building a 23-8 advantage 10 minutes into the game.

“I thought we really came out of the blocks well to start the game at both ends of the court,“ said West Liberty coach Jim Crutchfield. “Defensively I thought our pressure was good and that we had a good level of intensity.

“I thought we started the second half really well too and got a comfortable lead. To Shepherd’s credit there was a couple of times when I thought they were going to go away and they didn’t. They hung in there. They were down 17, but I thought they did a good job of fighting back. They cut it back to nine in the first half and then had it down to six early in the second half, but it was right then that I think we probably played our best stretch of basketball.“

After Shepherd’s Ryan McTavish buried a 3-pointer to make it 43-37 early in the final half West Liberty responded with 22-9 run over the course of the next 6:21 to essentially end any doubt as to the game’s outcome. The Hilltoppers, who made just one 3-point field goal in the opening half, drained five during that spurt.

“I have so much respect for coach Crutchfield, his program and what they do,“ said Shepherd coach Justin Namolik. “They’re very aggressive, physical and they shoot the ball very well. They’re an extremely tough team to beat. For us to beat them it would almost take a perfect game.

“It took us the first 10 minutes to get settled down and play. We were rattled. We got pushed around early, but then I thought we pushed back and I’m proud of our guys for that.

“Then at the beginning of the second half they hit some threes which hurt us. I thought we did a good job guarding against the threes in the first half, but they hurt us with them during that early run in the second half.“

West Liberty’s lead ballooned to as many as 25 before Shepherd made a late surge to make it respectable.

The Hilltoppers shot 49.2% from the field in the win (31-of-63), including a 7-of-15 showing from long range (46.7%). West Liberty also scored 44 points in the paint in the victory.

“We do what we do and we do it every night,“ said West Liberty’s Seger Bonifant, the MEC’s Player of the Year who led his team with a game-high 24 points on a 7-of-9 shooting performance from the field and an 8-of-8 showing at the foul line. “We play hard, play together and have fun.“

West Liberty also got 19 points and 13 rebounds from C.J. Hester, 11 points from Zac Grossenbacher and 10 points from Joe Lococo. Hester’s double-double outing was his team-high eighth of the season.

Shepherd, which finished the season with a 15-15 record, was led by senior Austin Cunningham’s 16 points.

“All season long we’ve had a motto on the team which is find a purpose,“ said Cunningham. “When we got down early we just tried to remember that. We just kept chipping and fighting to get ourselves back in it.“

The Rams, who lost their 19th straight game to West Liberty dating back to 2006, also got 15 points from Naim Muhammad, 11 points from McTavish and four points and a game-high 14 rebounds from Morgan McDonald.


►  MEC Men’s Basketball Tournament: GSC Too Much For Charleston, 73-62

The Mountain East Conference will have a new tournament champion this year.

Fifth-seeded Glenville State eliminated last year’s inaugural tournament winner, the fourth-seeded University of Charleston, 73-62, here Fridaynight in the quarterfinals of the Mountain East Conference Basketball Tournament at the Charleston Civic Center.

With the victory Glenville improved to 20-10 and earned a berth in the tournament semifinals where the Pioneers will face top-seeded and No. 4 ranked West Liberty (26-2). The Hilltoppers won both meetings between the teams during the regular season.

Glenville never trailed against Charleston, but the contest was close for much of the first 25 minutes. Then the Pioneers used a quick 7-0 spurt in a span of just 1:40 to turn an eight-point lead into a 15-point advantage with13:36 left to play. After that, Charleston was never able to get to within single digits of the Pioneers.

“I’m proud of our effort tonight,“ said Glenville coach Stephen Dye, who recorded his first 20-win season with the Pioneers and ironically the first at the school since current Charleston coach Dwaine Osborne was the coach at Glenville during the 2008-09 season. “We knew we were going to have to rebound the ball tonight to beat this team and we did that. That comes down to effort. Our ability to go get the ball tonight and to get stops against them defensively was crucial.“

Glenville, which is ranked next-to-last in the MEC in rebound margin, out-rebounded Charleston 36-31 in the victory and got 10 of those boards on the offensive glass. The Pioneers also shot 46% from the field (23-of-50), including a 10-of-24 showing from 3-point range.

Charleston, on the other hand, struggled shooting all night. The Golden Eagles connected on just 19-of-50 field goal attempts (38%) and were just 9-of-29 (31%) on 3-pointers.

“Congratulations to Glenville,“ said UC coach Dwaine Osborne. “Obviously they’re a very good team. They shot the ball extremely well tonight and we didn’t. All year long one of our problems has been our ability to make shots. It was a tough night for us because we didn’t play as well as we would’ve liked.

“I think maybe we fell in love a little bit with the three early on and that kind of set the tone for us. We came out gunning and it didn’t work. Stephen does a great job with his team. He has the right guys taking the right shots at the right times. Tonight we didn’t. We’ve lost 10 games now and if you go back and look I’d say in seven or eight of those games you’d find that we shot under 40%.“

Donte Morales and Sedric Nady led Glenville State with 22 and 18 points respectively. The Pioneers also got 12 points from Brett Morris and eight points, eight rebounds and seven assists from Reggie Williams.

“We all hold each other accountable on our team and we wanted this game bad,“ said Nady. “It was a tight game early, but we fought to get a lead. We knew they’d made a run back at us, so we just wanted to be prepared to answer that run with one of our own and we did. In the second half every time they tried to come back on us we had an answer.“

Charleston, which finished the season with a 19-10 record, got 20 points from Octavius Green, who accounted for over half of his team’s made 3-pointers in the game with five himself. The Golden Eagles also got 16 points from Chris Evans and 13 points off of the bench from Vincent Dillard.


►  MEC Men’s Basketball Tournament: Wheeling Jesuit 73, Concord 70

Third-seeded Concord and sixth-seeded Wheeling Jesuit went after each other like a pair of prize fighters hereFriday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the Mountain East Conference Basketball Tournament at the Charleston Civic Center.

When the dust settled it was Wheeling which emerged with a thrilling 73-70 victory and earned the right to advance to Saturday’s semifinal round where the Cardinals will face second-seeded Fairmont State at 8:15 PMThe Falcons eliminated seventh-seeded Notre Dame in the day’s first game, 71-57.

“This was a big win for us,“ said WJU coach Dan Sancomb, whose team improved to 21-9. “We beat a very good basketball team. It was a gut check for us. We can get hot and shoot the ball very well and they can defend exceptionally well, so we knew it was going to be a struggle. Our guys, though, just really fought. They did a great job of bringing toughness which was needed to win a game like this.“

The loss dropped Concord to 20-9 and likely put an end to the Mountain Lions’ season. Concord was ranked eighth in the latest NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional Rankings.

“If you look at the last 16 games I think we were two of the hotter teams in the league,“ said Concord coach Kent McBride. “Even though they drew a six seed I personally think they’re the second or third-best team in this league.

“Our guys knew going in this was going to be a battle and it was going to be a game where every possession matters. No team was going to get away from the other. We also knew it was going to be a game of runs which it was. We made the last one, but time just ran out on us. Tough game, but congratulations to Jesuit.“

Neither team led by more than eight in the contest which featured 10 ties and six lead changes and the outcome literally wasn’t decided until the final buzzer sounded.

After Wheeling’s Justin Fritz hit a pair of free throws to put his team ahead 73-70 with 8.5 seconds left the Cardinals elected to foul the Mountain Lions near mid-court and put Mike Boyd on the line for a pair of free throws instead of risking a made 3-pointer by Concord with 5.9 seconds left in regulation.

“Concord has made 10 threes on us two different times this season and we didn’t want to give them the chance to hit a game-tying one there,“ said Sancomb.

Boyd, however, missed his first free throw and then intentionally missed the second which allowed Concord to tip the rebound out, control it and call timeout with 2.2 seconds left to play. Jametrius Wade, who finished with 19 points, took the inbounds pass for the Mountain Lions and got a good look at a potential game-tying three from about 22-feet out at the top of the key but his shot bounced off of the back iron of the rim as the final horn sounded.

“He got a good look, but coming into the game he was 2-of-15 on 3-pointers for the season so if we were going to give anyone a good look he’s the guy we wanted to have it,“ said Sancomb.

“I know my numbers don’t say it, but I’m capable of making that shot,“ said Wade. “I practice it every day.

“I knew when we inbounded it that they would probably be face-guarding Rob (Reed) and Aaron (Miller). I first looked to pass, but they were defending the passing lanes. I knew I only had two seconds so I took a dribble and shot it. I thought it was going in, but it was a little too long.“

The win was the 15th in the last 17 games for Wheeling. It also halted Concord’s six-game winning streak.

Freshman forward Haywood Highsmith led the Cardinals with 19 points and 14 rebounds.

“My goal coming down here was to try to help my team win a Mountain East Conference championship,“ said Highsmith, who got his fifth double-double performance of the season. “As a team we’re playing well right now. We just want to make a run.“

Wheeling also got 14 points from Fritts, 13 from Matt Stewart 10 from Eric Seifert and eight points and 10 rebounds from Kyle Ritz.

Concord’s Rob Reed led all scorers with 26 points. The Mountain Lions also got 13 points from Aaron Miller.



<The Gilmer Free Press

►  Top-25 College Men’s Basketball Game Results

(Friday, March 06)


Final Score: (8) Wichita State 56, Southern Illinois 45

Fred VanVleet scored 13 points to lead No. 8 Wichita State over Southern Illinois 56-45 in the quarterfinals of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament on Friday. Tekele Cotton added 12 points and Ron Baker scored 10 for the top-seeded Shockers (28-3), who will take on Illinois State in the semifinal round on Saturday. Jalen Pendleton scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds for the Salukis (12-21), who gave the Shockers a run for their money in the early going, but failed to pull off the upset.


Final Score: (11) Northern Iowa 71, Bradley 46

Nate Buss netted 23 points in a reserve role to help 11th-ranked Northern Iowa advance to the Arch Madness Semifinals with a 71-46 win over Bradley. The second-seeded Panthers (28-3) only led by two at halftime, but dominated the final 20 minutes en route to a comfortable win over the lowly Braves (9-24), losers in seven of eight. Deon Mitchell tallied 14 points with five assists and Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year Seth Tuttle contributed 10 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.


Final Score: (14) Baylor 77, Texas Tech 74

WTaurean Prince scored a career-high 24 points and pulled down nine rebounds as the 14th-ranked Baylor Bears rallied from a 12-point second half deficit to beat the Texas Tech Red Raiders by a 77-74 margin. Kenny Chery and Rico Gathers had 18 points apiece for the Bears (23-8, 11-7 Big 12), who clinched at least the No. 4 seed in the upcoming Big 12 Tournament. Devaugntah Williams made eight 3-pointers en route to 28 points for the Red Raiders (13-18, 3-15), who went winless on the road this season. Keenan Evans and Zach Smith contributed 15 and 10 points, respectively.


Final Score: (25) Murray State 80, Morehead State 77

Cameron Payne drained the go-ahead 3-point shot in the final minute and 25th-ranked Murray State fended off Morehead State, 80-77, in the semifinals of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament. Payne had 25 points and Jarvis Williams totaled 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Racers (27-4), who have won 25 consecutive games. Murray State, which rallied from an 11-point deficit with 6 1/2 minutes left, will face either No. 2 seed Eastern Kentucky or third-seeded Belmont in Saturday night’s championship game. Karam Mashour had 22 points and 11 rebounds, and Kareem Storey scored 20 for the Eagles (17-17), who won their previous five contests.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Nothin’ but Net: Blazers are in serious trouble

Sadly, the Portland Trail Blazers’ chances at an NBA championship crumpled to the ground late Thursday.

Shooting guard Wesley Matthews tore his left Achilles tendon. Season over and Portland’s title chances are over along with Matthews’ season.

It may sound strange that a team’s third-leading scorer and fourth-best player could carry that much weight in a team’s aspirations, but the Trail Blazers are a special team.

No team relies heavier on their starters than the Blazers. Portland is 29th in bench scoring and 29th in bench minutes. Four Portland starters rank in the top 32 in minutes per game, including Matthews.

Good thing the Blazers acquired Arron Afflalo. He is a professional, starting shooting guard in the NBA, but he is not Matthews.

Matthews is second in the league in 3-pointers attempted, fourth in made 3- pointers and 26th in long-range shooting percentage. His 38.9% shooting is very respectable considering he jacked up seven 3-pointers a game.

Where does Afflalo rank on those lists? He’s 31st in beyond-the-arc attempts, 41st in converted long balls, shooting 34% from 3-point land. Afflalo’s inferiority in long-range prowess means changes for the Portland offense.

In fairness, Afflalo owns a career average of 38.4%, so his numbers could improve. The Blazers average 27.7 3-point shot attempts per game, so Afflalo will see more looks.

Offensively, the Blazers might be fine without Matthews. Fine is not the correct word. They might be adequate without Matthews. His absence hurts two other areas specifically.

Remember how poor that bench is? Afflalo has averaged 8.6 points in his six games with the Blazers. He’s played over 30 minutes twice, so he’ll score more with more playing time, but his starting status cripples this second unit.

The reserves now comprise Chris Kaman, Steve Blake and Dorell Wright. That’s not nearly enough. Alonzo Gee might see some run and C.J. McCollum, who has generally been an afterthought when healthy, will need to be the primary wing playmaker and scorer while Matthews is gone.

The other problem is defense. Portland is ninth in the league in opponents’ scoring and third in opponents’ field-goal percentage. They are a top-flight defensive team and Matthews is a part of that.

Matthews is 28th in defensive win shares, according to Basketball- reference.com. Afflalo is 254th. Little bit of discrepancy there, huh? Afflalo is not a terrible defender, but he’s not as good as Matthews. The Portland defense will take a hit.

Perhaps the bigger question in play was, did you believe the Trail Blazers were a legitimate NBA title contender? They are third in the Western Conference, which should make them viable contenders. They may trail the Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Memphis Grizzlies in people’s minds, but the Blazers are tough.

With Matthews out, it’s conceivable Portland could drop to seventh in the Western Conference. San Antonio is currently No. 7, four games behind the Blazers. The Los Angeles Clippers are fifth and two games in back of the Blazers. That’s the difference between home-court advantage in the Western Conference. It’s probable Portland won’t escape the West without hosting a series.

When a starter goes down, most everyone else is plugged into rotations differently to compensate. Having multiple parts doing unexpected jobs doesn’t work well.

It’s harder for the Blazers considering their depth issues. Matthews’ injury robs Portland of an opportunity. They are no longer title contenders, assuming you thought they ever were.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

- Matthews is a free agent at season’s end. This should impact that tremendously. It’s plausible his injury, which is by no means career- threatening, might scare teams and make it easier for Portland to re-sign him. Matthews might be the most attractive shooting guard on the market.

- It was mildly surprising Ray Allen decided not to come back this season. Plenty of contenders need shooters. What was most surprising is that Allen hasn’t closed the door on coming back next season. I assumed if he didn’t come back now, he’d retire. That’s not the case. Maybe he didn’t like the landscape of teams needing him or maybe he thought going back to the Miami Heat really served no purpose.

- The decision to make public officials’ mistakes late in games is tricky, but ultimately, if we hold coaches and players as accountable as we do, wouldn’t officials be next in line?

- My MVP ballot hasn’t changed - 1. James Harden; 2. Steph Curry; 3. LeBron James and 4. Russell Westbrook. What hurts Westbrook is that, when the team is not upper-echelon - and, no, the Thunder are not if they’re battling for the eighth seed - the stats need to be from another world. This triple-double run is superhuman, but overall the stats don’t make it such that Westbrook has to be voted ahead of the other men above him.

- Movie moment - Finally watched a Best Picture nominee and that was “Whiplash.“ I liked it a lot, but didn’t love it. J.K. Simmons is a bad dude. After watching, I felt sympathy for the drummers in the movie who had to kill themselves physically, which was part of the point of the movie. Worth a look.

- TV moment - There has not been a more original idea on television since I can remember than “The Last Man on Earth.“ You can assume the premise. Caught a good chunk of the pilot. I’m in.    ~~  Jim Brighters ~~


►  NBA Game Results

(Friday, March 06)


Final Score: Charlotte 103, Toronto 94

Al Jefferson scored 23 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead the Charlotte Hornets to a 103-94 win over the Toronto Raptors on Friday. Charlotte never trailed in its fourth straight win. Mo Williams also netted 23 points with seven assists, Gerald Henderson scored 13 and Lance Stephenson had 11 points and eight boards off the bench. The struggling Raptors lost for the seventh time in eight games despite a combined 55 points from guards DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. No other Raptor reached double figures.


Final Score: Indiana 98, Chicago 84

Solomon Hill had 16 points, five rebounds and three steals in the Indiana Pacers’ 98-84 win over the Chicago Bulls on Friday. Ian Mahinmi added 14 points and 11 rebounds off the bench for the Pacers, who have won a season-high four straight games. Rodney Stuckey tallied 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while David West contributed 10 points and 10 rebounds. Pau Gasol ended with 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Bulls, who had a two-game winning streak snapped. Doug McDermott had a career-high 16 points and Mike Dunleavy recorded 14 points and nine rebounds.


Final Score: Orlando 119, Sacramento 114

Tobias Harris buried a go-ahead 3-pointer with 28.9 seconds left to help lift the Orlando Magic to a 119-114 victory over the Sacramento Kings. Minus leading scorer Nikola Vucevic due to an ankle injury, the Magic had several players step up in halting a four-game losing streak. None was bigger than Victor Oladipo, who poured in 32 points, came up with five steals, and dished out his 10th assist of the game on Harris’ big shot. Channing Frye chipped in 22 points and 10 rebounds for Orlando. Harris added 19 points and rookie Elfrid Payton delivered 12 assists along with 10 points. The Kings received huge efforts from both Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins, but couldn’t get enough stops against an Orlando team that shot 56.5% from the field and made 13-of-24 attempts from beyond the arc. Gay finished with 39 points and Cousins scored 29 while pulling down 12 rebounds.


Final Score: Utah 89, Philadelphia 83

Gordon Hayward scored 25 points and the Utah Jazz took control in the second half to beat the Philadelphia 76ers 89-83 on Friday. Derrick Favors added 15 points and 10 rebounds and Rudy Gobert had 15 rebounds and nine points for the Jazz, who bounced back from a last-second loss in Boston on Wednesday to win for the fourth time in their last five games. Philadelphia center Nerlens Noel filled the stat sheet with 10 points, 11 rebounds and six steals in the opener of a five-game homestand. But the Sixers dropped their fourth game in a row, falling to 1-9 in their last 10.


Final Score: Washington 99, Miami 97

Despite playing without two of their stars and losing Goran Dragic to a back injury, the Miami Heat nearly overcame a 35-point deficit against the Washington Wizards. The miraculous comeback fell short. Nene scored 20 points and came up with a huge defensive rebound in the closing seconds as the Wizards held on for a 99-97 victory at Verizon Center. Marcin Gortat had 14 points and 17 rebounds for Washington, which was ahead 83-48 with seven minutes left in the third quarter. Bradley Beal had 17 points and John Wall dished out 12 assists for the Wizards, who have won two of three following a six-game skid. Dragic had 18 points, but he suffered a lower back contusion after taking a hard fall late in the third quarter. He didn’t play the fourth. Shabazz Napier had 16 points and Michael Beasley netted all 13 of his points in the final quarter for the Heat, who played without guard Dwyane Wade (sore right hip) and forward Luol Deng (right thigh contusion).


Final Score: Atlanta 106, Cleveland 97

Once again, the Atlanta Hawks proved that their depth can overcome the Cleveland Cavaliers’ star power. Al Horford led six Atlanta players in double figures with 19 points as the Eastern Conference leaders handled the big-name Cavaliers by a 106-97 score at Philips Arena. Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague each had 16 points in the Hawks’ balanced attack, with Millsap adding eight rebounds and Horford pulling down nine along with six assists in Atlanta’s sixth straight win. The Hawks also received strong contributions from their bench, with Dennis Schroder chipping in 15 points with eight assists and Mike Scott netting 14 points in 17 minutes, and made their mark on the defensive end as well. Atlanta forced 18 turnovers, including nine from LeBron James, who shot just 5-of-13 while managing 18 points. Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers with 20 points, while Kevin Love had 14 with eight rebounds.


Final Score: Phoenix 108, Brooklyn 100 (OT)

The Suns needed a 16-1 run late in regulation to force overtime, and they took care of business once they got there. Marcus and Markieff Morris both scored 19 points, Eric Bledsoe gave 19, 10 rebounds and six assists and Phoenix rallied past the Brooklyn Nets 108-100 in overtime on Friday. Brandon Knight finished with 12 points and seven assists and P.J. Tucker, who did not start because he missed the team bus to shoot-around earlier in the day, gave 11 points off the bench. Brook Lopez led five Brooklyn reserves and six players overall in double figures with 19 points and 13 rebounds.


Final Score: Houston 103, Detroit 93

James Harden’s third triple-double of the season lifted the Houston Rockets over the Detroit Pistons, 103-93, on Friday. Harden finished with 38 points, 12 assists and 12 rebounds for Houston, which snapped a two-game losing streak. Harden’s three triple-doubles this season are the most in a single season by a Rocket since Clyde Drexler had three in 1996-97. Terrence Jones had 17 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and two steals for the Rockets. Corey Brewer contributed 15 points off the bench. Greg Monroe ended with 19 points and eight boards for the Pistons, who have lost five in a row. Reggie Jackson recorded 17 points and seven assists.


Final Score: Memphis 97, LA Lakers 90

Zach Randolph scored 24 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to help the Memphis Grizzlies earn a 97-90 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. Memphis needed a late comeback to win for the third time in four games. The Grizzlies had four other players reach double figures, led by Marc Gasol with 18 points and Jeff Green with 16. The Lakers’ offense went cold in the closing moments of the game in their fourth straight loss. Jordan Clarkson scored a career-high 25 points, and the Los Angeles reserves provided 44 points.


Final Score: Boston 104, New Orleans 98

Isaiah Thomas scored 27 points in under 29 minutes off the bench and the Boston Celtics beat Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans 104-98 on Friday night. Davis had 29 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks, but the Hornets never led over the last 16 1/2 minutes, failing in their attempt to tie idle Oklahoma City for eighth place in the Western Conference. Brandon Bass had 17 points, Evan Turner scored 16 and Jae Crowder added 11 points and nine rebounds for the Celtics, who have won two in a row and five of their last seven games. Davis returned from a five-game absence because of a shoulder sprain to get 39 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks in an 88-85 win over Detroit on Wednesday—New Orleans’ sixth victory in seven games. He was 11-of-21 from the field in this one and Eric Gordon added 20 points.


Final Score: San Antonio 120, Denver 111

Kawhi Leonard scored 25 points and pulled down eight rebounds, and Tony Parker added 24 points in San Antonio’s 120-111 win over the Denver Nuggets. The Spurs, who have won four in a row and are in seventh place in the Western Conference standings, received 15 points from Tim Duncan. He also had three blocks, which moved him to 2,895 for his career, one past Patrick Ewing for sixth place on the NBA’s all-time list. Danny Green provided 11 points and Tiago Splitter scored 10 for the Spurs, who have won their first two contests of a six-game homestand after a 4-5 rodeo road trip. Ty Lawson scored 23 with nine assists for the Nuggets, who lost for the seventh time in nine games. Kenneth Faried provided 20 points and 10 boards.


Final Score: Golden State 104, Dallas 89

Stephen Curry scored 22 points and dished out seven assists, and the Golden State Warriors continued their home dominance with a 104-89 rout of the Dallas Mavericks Friday night. Draymond Green chipped in 18 points and nine rebounds, and Klay Thompson scored 16 for the Warriors, who improved to an NBA-best 26-2 at home. It also marked their sixth straight win against the Mavericks, the first time the Warriors have accomplished the feat since capturing six in a row from December 26, 1996 to December 16, 1997. Rajon Rondo and Dirk Nowitzki each had 14 points for the Mavericks, who have lost four of their last five.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  This Week in Auto Racing March 07 - 08

Las Vegas Motor Speedway begins a three- week west coast swing for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series.


NASCAR

Sprint Cup Series

Kobalt 400 - Las Vegas Motor Speedway - Las Vegas, Nevada


Three months after he underwent open heart surgery, Brian Vickers is set to make his season debut this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Vickers, the driver of the No. 55 Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing in the Sprint Cup Series, has been medically cleared to return to racing.

In December, doctors discovered that his body was rejecting a patch that was surgically placed over a hole in his heart in 2010. The 31-year-old Vickers had corrective surgery that month, forcing him to miss the February 22 season- opening Daytona 500 and last Sunday’s race at Atlanta.

Now he’s ready to get his season on track.

“It’s awesome,“ Vickers said. “I think that’s the best way to describe it. I’m really excited to be back. There are certainly times where I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to be back, and then you kind of deal with those emotions, and then all the sudden you’re back, and then you have to deal with those emotions. I couldn’t be more thrilled about it.“

In addition to his cardiac issues, Vickers has suffered from blood clots in the past. Five years ago, he was diagnosed and treated for blood clots in his left leg and both lungs. Vickers was sidelined for a majority of the ‘10 season.

Then in 2013, Vickers missed part of the season after he was placed on blood- thinning medication to treat a blood clot in his right calf.

“It’s tough being out of the car,“ he said. “It’s really tough, and there’s a lot of emotions, a lot of challenging emotions kind of to deal with that. I’ve been at the track the last two weekends with the team, kind of supporting them and being on the box and being on the spotter’s stand and being on the tower and just kind of moving around and trying to learn and just pick up little things that could be beneficial in the car. I can tell you it was the last place I wanted to be.“

Team co-owner Michael Waltrip drove Vickers’s No. 55 car to a 26th-place finish in the Daytona 500, while Brett Moffitt had an impressive eighth-place run at Atlanta. Moffitt is scheduled to drive the No. 34 Ford for Front Row Motorsports at Las Vegas, Phoenix (March 15) and Fontana, California (March 22), while David Ragan continues to be behind the wheel of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in place of the injured Kyle Busch.

“(Moffitt) is a good driver,“ Vickers said. “I’ve been working with him now for two or three years kind of in a test team-type capacity. I’ve seen his potential. He needs experience. I think that it took him a while to figure out in the (Atlanta) race what he wanted and needed and same for the team to kind of get dialed in.“

If Vickers were to win any one of the remaining 24 regular season races, it would virtually assure him a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. Despite missing the first two races this season, NASCAR has given him a medical exemption for Chase eligibility.

Vickers has won a Sprint Cup race three times during his career, with his most recent victory occurring in July 2013 at New Hampshire. He drove a partial schedule for MWR in the series that year.

“I kind of look at it like a win-win,“ Vickers said of his return to racing. “If we go out there and do well, that’s great. And even if we don’t, just being able to get back in a race car again and go 200 (mph) is incredible. No matter what the outcome, I’m happy to be here and happy to be back in a car again and get a chance to do something I love. But I’m an optimist. I think we’re going to go out there and do well.“

Forty-eight teams are on the entry list for the Kobalt 400.

Xfinity Series

Boyd Gaming 300 - Las Vegas Motor Speedway - Las Vegas, Nevada

The Xfinity Series will run its third race of the season on Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Chris Buescher and Ty Dillon are presently tied for the lead in the series standings with 83 points apiece. They hold an eight-point advantage over Ryan Reed, who won the Xfinity season-opener on February 21 at Daytona. Kevin Harvick, a Sprint Cup Series regular, scored the victory one week ago at Atlanta.

Buescher, the driver of the No. 60 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing, is having the best start of his Xfinity career, finishing second at Daytona and then fourth at Atlanta. He placed ninth in last year’s race at Las Vegas.

“We are off to a good start this year and expect to be able to follow that up in Las Vegas,“ Buescher said. “We had a top-10 there last year and going back to the track for the second time should help us improve. It is a track with a lot of bumps and character, making it one of the cooler 1.5-mile tracks we go to.“

Buescher finished the 2014 season seventh in points while Dillon placed fifth.

Dillon, who is behind the wheel of the No. 3 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing, finished third at both Daytona and Atlanta. He has two Xfinity starts at Las Vegas, placing 11th in 2013 and ‘14.

“We have all the momentum on our side, and it’s obviously a fantastic way to start the season,“ Dillon said. “Our theme this season is to believe in ourselves. We have all the tools to be a championship team, and these past two races have been an example of how we want this season to go. Overall, it gives us a boost on the competition, but we’re definitely not going to sit back and relax. We’re full steam ahead and hope to turn third place finishes into wins.“

Chase Elliott, the defending Xfinity champion, is eighth in the standings (-28) after finishing 28th at Daytona (accident) and fifth at Atlanta.

Forty-two teams are on the entry list for the Boyd Gaming 300. Aric Almirola, Austin Dillon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Denny Hamlin are those Sprint Cup regulars scheduled to compete in this race.


►  Vickers returns to racing at Las Vegas

Three months after he underwent open heart surgery, Brian Vickers is set to make his season debut this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Vickers, the driver of the No. 55 Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing in the Sprint Cup Series, has been medically cleared to return to racing.

In December, doctors discovered that his body was rejecting a patch that was surgically placed over a hole in his heart in 2010. The 31-year-old Vickers had corrective surgery that month, forcing him to miss the February 22 season- opening Daytona 500 and last Sunday’s race at Atlanta.

Now he’s ready to get his season on track.

“It’s awesome,“ Vickers said. “I think that’s the best way to describe it. I’m really excited to be back. There are certainly times where I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to be back, and then you kind of deal with those emotions, and then all the sudden you’re back, and then you have to deal with those emotions. I couldn’t be more thrilled about it.“

In addition to his cardiac issues, Vickers has suffered from blood clots in the past. Five years ago, he was diagnosed and treated for blood clots in his left leg and both lungs. Vickers was sidelined for a majority of the ‘10 season.

Then in 2013, Vickers missed part of the season after he was placed on blood- thinning medication to treat a blood clot in his right calf.

“It’s tough being out of the car,“ he said. “It’s really tough, and there’s a lot of emotions, a lot of challenging emotions kind of to deal with that. I’ve been at the track the last two weekends with the team, kind of supporting them and being on the box and being on the spotter’s stand and being on the tower and just kind of moving around and trying to learn and just pick up little things that could be beneficial in the car. I can tell you it was the last place I wanted to be.“

Team co-owner Michael Waltrip drove Vickers’s No. 55 car to a 26th-place finish in the Daytona 500, while Brett Moffitt had an impressive eighth-place run at Atlanta. Moffitt is scheduled to drive the No. 34 Ford for Front Row Motorsports at Las Vegas, Phoenix (March 15) and Fontana, California (March 22), while David Ragan continues to be behind the wheel of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in place of the injured Kyle Busch.

“(Moffitt) is a good driver,“ Vickers said. “I’ve been working with him now for two or three years kind of in a test team-type capacity. I’ve seen his potential. He needs experience. I think that it took him a while to figure out in the (Atlanta) race what he wanted and needed and same for the team to kind of get dialed in.“

If Vickers were to win any one of the remaining 24 regular season races, it would virtually assure him a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. Despite missing the first two races this season, NASCAR has given him a medical exemption for Chase eligibility.

Vickers has won a Sprint Cup race three times during his career, with his most recent victory occurring in July 2013 at New Hampshire. He drove a partial schedule for MWR in the series that year.

“I kind of look at it like a win-win,“ Vickers said of his return to racing. “If we go out there and do well, that’s great. And even if we don’t, just being able to get back in a race car again and go 200 (mph) is incredible. No matter what the outcome, I’m happy to be here and happy to be back in a car again and get a chance to do something I love. But I’m an optimist. I think we’re going to go out there and do well.“

Forty-eight teams are on the entry list for the Kobalt 400.

Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup. Date: Sunday, March 8. Race: Kobalt 400. Site: Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Track: 1.5-mile oval. Start time: 3:30 PM ET. Laps: 267. Miles: 400.5. 2014 Winner: Brad Keselowski. Television: FOX. Radio: Performance Racing Network (PRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.


►  Buescher, Dillon share points lead heading into Las Vegas

The Xfinity Series will run its third race of the season on Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Chris Buescher and Ty Dillon are presently tied for the lead in the series standings with 83 points apiece. They hold an eight-point advantage over Ryan Reed, who won the Xfinity season-opener on February 21 at Daytona. Kevin Harvick, a Sprint Cup Series regular, scored the victory one week ago at Atlanta.

Buescher, the driver of the No. 60 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing, is having the best start of his Xfinity career, finishing second at Daytona and then fourth at Atlanta. He placed ninth in last year’s race at Las Vegas.

“We are off to a good start this year and expect to be able to follow that up in Las Vegas,“ Buescher said. “We had a top-10 there last year and going back to the track for the second time should help us improve. It is a track with a lot of bumps and character, making it one of the cooler 1.5-mile tracks we go to.“

Buescher finished the 2014 season seventh in points while Dillon placed fifth.

Dillon, who is behind the wheel of the No. 3 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing, finished third at both Daytona and Atlanta. He has two Xfinity starts at Las Vegas, placing 11th in 2013 and ‘14.

“We have all the momentum on our side, and it’s obviously a fantastic way to start the season,“ Dillon said. “Our theme this season is to believe in ourselves. We have all the tools to be a championship team, and these past two races have been an example of how we want this season to go. Overall, it gives us a boost on the competition, but we’re definitely not going to sit back and relax. We’re full steam ahead and hope to turn third place finishes into wins.“

Chase Elliott, the defending Xfinity champion, is eighth in the standings (-28) after finishing 28th at Daytona (accident) and fifth at Atlanta.

Forty-two teams are on the entry list for the Boyd Gaming 300. Aric Almirola, Austin Dillon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Denny Hamlin are those Sprint Cup regulars scheduled to compete in this race.

Series: NASCAR Xfinity. Date: Saturday, March 7. Race: Boyd Gaming 300. Site: Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Track: 1.5-mile oval. Start time: 4 PM ET. Laps: 200. Miles: 300. 2014 Winner: Brad Keselowski. Television: Fox Sports 1. Radio: Performance Racing Network (PRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.


►  Gordon wins Las Vegas pole with new track record

Jeff Gordon won the pole for the Kobalt 400 after setting a new track record in Friday’s qualifying at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Gordon, who is in his final season of Sprint Cup Series competition, turned a lap around this 1.5-mile racetrack at 194.679 mph for his second pole of the season and the 79th of his career. It was also his first pole win in 18 races at Las Vegas.

The driver of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and four-time series champion has now won at least one pole at every current Sprint Cup track except Kansas and Kentucky.

Gordon won the pole for the Daytona 500, but one week ago at Atlanta, he was one of 13 drivers who did not get a chance to make a qualifying run due to inspection issues. All 13 had their cars initially fail inspection and then could not have another examination of their vehicles completed in time for qualifying. Gordon was placed in the 35th starting position. He was involved in a multi-car accident late in the race and ended up finishing 41st.

“What a turnaround from last week,“ Gordon said of his pole win at Las Vegas. “I’m just so proud of this team and keeping their heads up. Last week was a tough one, and this is a great, great way to start out the weekend here in Las Vegas.“

Joey Logano, the Daytona 500 champion and last year’s pole winner at Las Vegas, will share the front row with Gordon after posting a lap at 194.315 mph.

“We were so close,“ Logano said. “I thought the last lap was really good. I felt good about it and thought it was the fastest I had been, but Jeff laid down a really good one.“

Gordon’s teammates, Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr., qualified third and fourth, respectively, while Kyle Larson took the fifth spot.

Finishing sixth through 12th in the final round of qualifying were: Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Martin Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson, who is also Gordon’s teammate, Jamie McMurray, Brad Keselowski, the defending race winner at Las Vegas, and Tony Stewart.

Ten drivers in qualifying topped the previous track record of 193.278 mph, set by Logano one year ago.

Brian Vickers, who is making his season debut in the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota three months after he underwent open heart surgery, qualified 28th.

Mike Bliss, Matt DiBenedetto, Travis Kvapil, Reed Sorenson and Mike Wallace failed to qualify for Sunday’s 400-mile race at Las Vegas.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Cejka moves into Puerto Rico Open lead

Alex Cejka carded a bogey-free, 5-under 67 on Friday and he moved into the lead after two rounds of the Puerto Rico Open.

Cejka, who had missed the cut in three of his previous six starts in 2015, ended 36 holes at 7-under-par 137.

Brandon Hagy also shot 67 in round two and he is alone in second place at minus-6. Emiliano Grillo is one stroke back at 5-under-par 139 after carding a 2-under 70 on Friday at Trump International Golf Club.

Glen Day posted a 4-under 68 and he climbed into a share of fourth place at minus-3. He stands alongside Jonathan Byrd (71), Rod Pampling (71), Jon Curran (71), Brendon de Jonge (70), Scott Pinckney (71) and defending champion Chesson Hadley (70).

First-round leader Mark Hubbard struggled to a 2-over 74 and he fell into a tie for 11th at 2-under-par 142.

Cejka opened round two with five straight pars from the 10th. He got on the board as he birdied the par-5 15th. He birdied the next par-5, No. 18, en route to making the turn at minus-4.

The German started his second nine with four pars in a row. He birdied the par-5 fifth and came back with a birdie at the seventh.

Cejka capped his round with a birdie on the ninth.

“I’ve been coming here for a lot of years now, and I’ve been playing great in the past. The results didn’t show it, but you know, the last two days I’ve been playing good. My short game is great. I make a lot of putts when I need to, and I’m in a great position right now,“ said Cejka, who tied for 13th at this event in 2009.

“I’ve been playing good in the past couple of months. It’s just something was always missing. We’re going to change it this week. I’m really positive, I’m playing good, and we’ll see what the next two days bring.“

Hagy, who is playing on a sponsors exemption, flew out of the gate with three birdies in the first four holes. After three pars in a row from the fifth, he notched back-to-back birdies at eight and nine.

The 23-year-old made it three in a row as he birdied the 10th. That burst moved him to minus-7.

However, Hagy stumbled to bogeys at the 14th and 16th to slide two off the lead. He moved back within one of Cejka with a birdie at the 18th.

“I played well today, controlled my ball, which you have to. It’s very windy out there. And I just kind of tried to let it go and hit good golf shots, so yeah, so it was a good day,“ said Hagy, who is making his third PGA Tour start.

NOTES: Cejka, who is winless on the PGA Tour, has had at least a piece of the 36-hole lead three previous times on the PGA Tour ... The cut fell at 2-over- par 146 with 75 players moving on to the weekend ... Among those that missed the cut were former Masters champion Trevor Immelman, Spencer Levin, Jarrod Lyle along with former British Open champions Ben Curtis and Todd Hamilton.


►  Holmes struggles, but still leads by 2 at Doral

J.B. Holmes dumped four balls in the water in Friday’s second round, but battled to a 1-over 73 at the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

Holmes finished 36 holes at 9-under-par 135 at Trump National Doral. Holmes picked up his third PGA Tour win last year at the Wells Fargo Championship.

Ryan Moore managed a 1-under 71 and he remained alone in second place at minus-7. Adam Scott carded a 4-under 68 for the low round of the day. He jumped into third place at 6-under-par 138.

Bubba Watson, who shared second place at this event last year, shot 3-under 69. He was joined in fourth place at 4-under 140 by Henrik Stenson (71).

Ryan Palmer (70), 2011 runner-up Dustin Johnson (73) and Alexander Levy (73) are tied for sixth place at minus-3, while Sergio Garcia (69) and Jamie Donaldson (72) are one stroke further back at 2-under 142. Donaldson shared second place with Watson last year.

World No. 1 Rory McIlroy mixed six birdies and four bogeys in a round of 70. He is tied for 11th at 1-under 143. Defending champion Patrick Reed (73) shares 18th place at even-par 144.

Holmes’ round got off to a rough start. His second shot to the par-5 first landed on the front, left side of the green, but rolled off the right side of the putting surface and trickled into the water.

After a drop, Holmes chipped to nine feet and 2-putted for bogey. He quickly atoned for that mistake as he rolled in a 12-foot birdie effort on No. 2.

Holmes found water for a second time at the third as his second shot missed the green right and bounced into the pond. That led to another bogey. After four pars in a row, dropped his third to the par-5 eighth to four feet and he knocked that in for birdie.

The 32-year-old hit his tee shot at the par-3 ninth to 31 feet, but he 3- putted for bogey en route to making the turn at minus-9.

Holmes got that stroke right back with a 2-putt birdie on the par-5 10th. His tee shot on the par-3 13th found sand and that led to a bogey. Holmes birdied the 16th and 17th, but from inside 10 feet.

At the last, Holmes’ drive found water left of the fairway. He missed the green with his third and chipped to 11 feet. Holmes 2-putted for a closing double-bogey, which trimmed his lead to two strokes.

“I hit the ball really, really good, but I didn’t putt the ball as well (as Thursday). Only had a few bad swings, but today every time I had a bad swing it was at the wrong time and went in the water,“ Holmes said. “I had four balls in the water, but hit the ball great. It was kind of back and forth. All in all, it was a good day.“

Moore played the back nine first on Friday and he opened with four pars in a row. He missed the green at No. 14 and that led to the only bogey of his round.

The four-time PGA Tour winner erased that mistake at the 15th, where he poured in a 30-footer for birdie. He ran off 10 consecutive pars from the 16th.

Moore ended that run of pars by draining a 36-footer to save par at the seventh. He tapped in a 2-footer for birdie at the par-5 eighth to move to minus-7. Moore parred the last to end there.

“To have that (par) save on three kind of kept it rolling, and then a great putt on seven and backed it up with a birdie on eight. It was a nice finish to the day,“ Moore stated. “It was hard to get a 10-, 12-footer for birdie today. There were a lot of pins I was hitting to 25 feet and was happy to be there.“

NOTES: This is the fourth time Holmes has had the 36-hole lead on the PGA Tour ... He won one of the previous three times he was in that position ... His best finish at this event is a tie for 18th in 2010 ... Phil Mickelson carded a 2-over 74 and he fell into a share of 41st at plus-4 ... Webb Simpson and Morgan Hoffmann had the only two bogey-free rounds on Friday.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Friday, March 06)


Final Score: Columbus 3, New Jersey 2

Marko Dano scored the eventual game-winning goal before the midway point of regulation, as the Columbus Blue Jackets ended a seven-game skid with a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Friday. Justin Falk and Brandon Dubinsky each tallied a goal and an assist and Sergei Bobrovsky made 21 saves for the Blue Jackets, who won their first game since a 2-1 decision at Pittsburgh on February 19. Jordin Tootoo and Peter Harrold each lit the lamp, while Cory Schneider allowed all three goals on 24 shots as New Jersey’s two game win streak came to an end.


Final Score: Minnesota 3, Carolina 1

Mikael Granlund and Zach Parise scored in a span of less than two minutes early in the third period, enabling Minnesota to exit Carolina with a 3-1 decision on Friday. Charlie Coyle also tallied and Jason Pominville contributed two assists for the Wild, winners of five straight. Devan Dubnyk came up big once more, making 37 saves, improving to 18-3-1 since joining the club. Riley Nash provided the lone offense for the Hurricanes, losers of two in a row since winning three straight. Anton Khudobin stopped 16 shots in defeat.


Final Score: Ottawa 3, Buffalo 2

Mika Zibanejad and Mike Stone scored 1:34 apart early in the third period and Ottawa escaped with a 3-2 win over Buffalo on Friday. Erik Karlsson also lit the lamp and Milan Michalek finished with a pair of helpers for the Senators, who have won seven of their last eight games. Andrew Hammond continued his hot play, upping his record to 7-0-1 thanks to a 24-save effort. Hammond became only the second goaltender in the last 76 years to allow two goals or fewer in each of his first eight NHL starts. Martin Jones performed the feat last year for the Kings. Philip Varone and Tyler Ennis scored early in the contest for the Sabres, losers in three straight and seven of 10. Anders Lindback made 34 saves in the loss, Buffalo’s 16th by one goal this season.


Final Score: Calgary 5, Detroit 2

Hudler finished with two goals, including the go-ahead marker, against his former team to lift the Calgary Flames to a 5-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Friday. Sean Monahan scored for a third consecutive game and also tallied an assist, while Matt Stajan and Mason Raymond also lit the lamp for the Flames, who were coming off a thrilling 4-3 shootout win over Boston on Thursday. Jonas Hiller made 33 saves in Calgary’s third straight win. Justin Abdelkader tallied twice and Jimmy Howard allowed four goals on 23 shots as Detroit’s three-game win streak came to an end.


Final Score: Chicago 2, Edmonton 1 (SO)

Antoine Vermette delivered his first big moment as a Chicago Blackhawk, scoring the deciding goal in the third round of the shootout to give his new team a 2-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Vermette, one of two significant additions to the Blackhawks’ roster at the trade deadline, snuck a backhand attempt through the legs of Ben Scrivens in the veteran center’s second game with Chicago. The goal rewarded Corey Crawford for a stellar performance between the pipes, as the Chicago netminder turned aside 46 shots before denying all three Edmonton skaters in the shootout. Brent Seabrook helped the Blackhawks pick up the important two points by recording the game-tying goal with 6:02 remaining in regulation. Scrivens was outstanding as well, stopping 38 shots through regulation and overtime. Derek Roy accounted for the lone goal for Edmonton, which has now dropped three straight and five of six.


Final Score: Pittsburgh 5, Anaheim 2

Patric Hornqvist scored twice as the Pittsburgh Penguins topped the Anaheim Ducks 5-2 on Friday. Blake Comeau, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby all tallied a goal and an assist for the Penguins, who bounced back from Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to Colorado for their fifth win in the last six games. Backup netminder Thomas Greiss made 27 saves in the win. Corey Perry and Tomas Fleischmann both scored and Frederik Andersen allowed four goals on 20 shots as the Ducks’ four-game win streak came to an end.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Italy, Kazakhstan even after first day of Davis Cup

Kazakhstan and Italy split the first two matches in their Davis Cup first-round tie on Friday.

Mikhail Kukushkin gave Kazakhstan the first point of the day with a 7-6 (8-6), 6-1, 6-2 victory over Simone Bolelli before Andreas Seppi evened it for the Italians with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2 triumph over Andrey Golubev.

The best-of-five series continues Saturday with a doubles rubber scheduled to pit Fabio Fognini and Paolo Lorenzi for Italy against Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov for the hosts.

Reverse singles action for Sunday is currently slated to feature Kukushkin against Seppi and Golubev versus Bolelli.

Bolelli had a chance to win the first set for the visitors in the opening match with a 6-4 lead in the tiebreak, but Kukushkin battled back and won four straight points to capture the set. Kukushkin carried that momentum for the remainder of the match, dropping just three more games.

“You never know what would have happened if I had lost the first set,“ said Kukushkin. “Maybe I would have been able to battle back and win the match, but you never know.“

Seppi, though, made sure the Italians at least broke even after the first day. He broke serve three times over the first two sets, then couldn’t finish off a tight tiebreaker, but a break of serve in the sixth game of the fourth set provided the difference.

“If I had lost the fourth, you never know what could have happened in the fifth,“ said Seppi, who beat Roger Federer in the third round of the Australian Open earlier this year. “I think after I broke him he was a little bit down.“

Italy reached the semifinals of last year’s Davis Cup before losing to eventual champion Switzerland and has just one title in its history, coming back in 1976.

Kazakhstan has never won the Davis Cup and last year also fell to Switzerland in the quarterfinals.


►  Murray gives Brits 1-0 lead over U.S.

Scottish hero Andy Murray gave Great Britain a 1-0 lead over the United States with a victory over Donald Young in a best-of-five opening-round Davis Cup tie in Glasgow.

The Dunblane, Scotland, native Murray needed four sets to subdue the left- handed Young, 6-1, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2.

Friday’s second opening singles rubber pits towering American John Isner against James Ward.

Saturday’s doubles will have the American Bryan brothers, Bob and Mike, taking on a British duo of Dominic Inglot and Murray’s older brother, Jamie.

Sunday’s reverse singles on the indoor hardcourt at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena will pit the world No. 5 Murray against the 20th-ranked 6-foot-10 Isner and the No. 47 Young versus the 111th-ranked Ward.

The two-time Grand Slam champion and 2014 Australian Open runner-up Murray is now 20-2 in his career Davis Cup singles.

Team USA is captained by former world No. 1 Jim Courier, while Leon Smith pilots Britain.

This tie marks a repeat of last year’s first-round clash in San Diego, where the Murray-led Brits beat the U.S., 3-1.

The U.S. leads the all-time series, 11-8. The Americans own a record 32 Davis Cup titles, while Britain boasts nine, with its’ last one coming in 1936. The Americans last hoisted the chalice in 2007.

The Americans and Britain squared off in the first-ever Davis Cup meeting in 1900.

The winner in Glasgow will meet the France-Germany victor in a quarterfinal in July.


►  Djokovic makes it 1-0, as Serbs lead Croats in Davis Cup

As expected, world No. 1 great Novak Djokovic gave Serbia a 1-0 lead in its’ best-of-five opening-round Davis Cup affair versus Croatia.

The reigning Australian Open and Wimbledon champ cruised past helpless Croat Mate Delic, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4, on the indoor hardcourt at Kraljevo Sports Centre.

The 27-year-old eight-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic is now 27-7 in his career Davis Cup singles and led the Serbs to their lone championship in 2010. Serbia was also a runner-up two years ago.

Friday’s other opening singles rubber pits resurgent Serb Viktor Troicki against rising young 18-year-old Croat Borna Coric.

Saturday’s doubles call for Troicki and Nenad Zimonjic to face a Croatian tandem of Marin Draganja and Franko Skugor, while Sunday’s reverse singles have Djokovic taking on the 61st-ranked Coric and the No. 41 Troicki meeting the 158th-ranked Delic.

Bogdan Obradovic captains Serbia, while Croatia is guided by Zeljko KraJanuary

Serbia and 2005 titlist Croatia have a long political history, but they had previously only met once in Davis Cup since the division of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. The Serbs got the better of that clash in 2010.

The winner in Kraljevo will face the Argentina-Brazil victor in a quarterfinal in July.


►  Champion Swiss, Belgians tied after Day 1 in Davis Cup

Reigning champion Switzerland and host Belgium are knotted at 1-1 after Friday’s opening singles action in a best-of- five opening-round Davis Cup tie.

Things got underway in Liege when 344th-ranked Swiss Henri Laaksonen outlasted world No. 132 Ruben Bemelmans 1-6, 6-7 (6-8), 6-4, 6-0, 6-2, but the Belgians evened the score when 102nd-ranked Steve Darcis mauled No. 576 Michael Lammer 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 on the indoor hardcourt at Country Hall du Sart Tilman.

Switzerland may be the reigning Davis Cup champ, but 2014 heroes Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka are not playing this time around.

Saturday’s doubles has a Swiss duo of Lammer and Adrien Bossel taking on a Belgian pairing of Bemelmans and Niels Desein, while Sunday’s reverse singles call for Darcis to tangle with Laaksonen and Bemelmans to battle Lammer.

The Swiss are captained by Severin Luthi, while Belgium is skippered by Johan Van Herck.

The former world No. 1 great Federer and Wawrinka led the Swiss to their first-ever Davis Cup title last year when they beat host France 3-1 in the final, but both men decided against playing in the opening round this year.

Belgium and Switzerland are meeting for an eighth time, with the hosts looking to advance to the World Group quarterfinals for the first time in eight years.

The Swiss lead the all-time series between the two sides, 4-3, including a victory in the most recent encounter in 2008.

The winner in Liege will meet the Canada-Japan victor in July’s quarterfinals.


►  French lead Germans 2-0 in Davis Cup battle

Team France picked up big wins from former top-10 stars Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon on Friday, as the visitors grabbed a commanding 2-0 lead in their best-of-five opening-round Davis Cup tie against Germany.

First up on Day 1 was Simon, who had to go the distance to stave off game German Jan-Lennard Struff, 7-6 (7-4), 2-6, 6-7 (1-7), 6-2, 10-8, in 4 hours, 24 minutes.

Both players refused to drop service games in the final set before that trend was bucked in the 17th game by the Simon, who then held his own serve to get the first point of the weekend.

Monfils followed that dramatic affair by handling Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 7-5, 7-6 (7-4) in the nightcap.

Saturday’s doubles rubber tentatively pits a French team of Julien Benneteau and Nicolas Mahut against a German tandem of Benjamin Becker and Andre Begemann.

Sunday’s reverse singles have the world No. 14 Simon taking on the 28th-ranked Kohlschreiber and the No. 19 Monfils tangling with the 74th-ranked Struff on the indoor hardcourt at Frankfurt’s Fraport Arena.

France is captained by former Australian Open runner-up Arnaud Clement, while Germany is guided by Michael Kohlmann.

The Germans and French are meeting in a rematch of a World Group quarterfinal from last year.

Looking to put an end to a 76-year losing streak against France, Germany won both singles rubbers on Day 1 last year only for the host French to roar back from 0-2 down for just the fourth time in their history.

The Germans have not defeated their European counterparts since 1938, but they are on a three-tie winning run at home, including a victory over Spain in the first round last year.

The France-Germany winner will meet the Great Britain-United States victor in a July quarterfinal.

The nine-time champion French are 8-2 all-time versus the three-time titlist Germans in this storied competition.

France lost to visiting Switzerland 3-1 in last year’s Davis Cup finale in Lille.


►  Garcia, Bacsinszky roll into Monterrey QFs

Third-seeded Caroline Garcia and fourth-ranked Timea Bacsinszky each won their second-round matchup at the Monterrey Open tennis event on Thursday.

Garcia dispatched Francesca Schiavone 7-6 (7-2), 6-0, while Bacsinszky, fresh off her surprising title in Acapulco last week, earned a hard-fought 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Lesia Tsurenko on the hardcourts of the Sierra Madre Tennis Club.

Fifth-seeded Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who won this event in 2010, 2011 and 2013, defeated Swedish challenger Johanna Larsson 6-4, 6-4

In the day’s lone upset, Polish qualifier Urszula Radwanska toppled seventh- seeded Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova 6-2, 6-4.

Ana Ivanovic, the reigning Monterrey champion and current top seed, will face Kristina Mladenovic in a quarterfinal matchup on Friday.

This year’s champ will earn $111,389.


►  Wozniacki eases into Kuala Lumpur semis

Top-seeded former world No. 1 star Caroline Wozniacki was an easy quarterfinal winner Friday at the Malaysian Open tennis event

The 2014 U.S. Open runner-up from Denmark handled German Carina Witthoeft 6-3, 6-1 on the hardcourts at Bukit Resort. Wozniacki will appear in her third semifinal in six events this season.

Her semifinal opponent on Saturday will be wild card Su-Wei Hsieh, who got past Russian qualifier Elizaveta Kulichkova 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 6-0. Taipei’s Hsieh captured the Kuala Lumpur title in 2012.

The 24-year-old Wozniacki is 3-0 lifetime against the 29-year-old Hsieh.

The other semi will pit fourth-seeded Aussie Jarmila Gajdosova against Romanian Alexandra Dulgheru. Gajdosova edged out Japan’s Kurumi Nara 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, while Dulgheru upended eighth-seeded German Julia Goerges 7-6 (7-5), 7-5.

This week’s champion will collect $43,000.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Leave the Light On recovering from surgery

Remsen Stakes winner Leave the Light On, trained by Chad Brown, is recovering from ankle surgery that will keep him off the Kentucky Derby trail.

Leave the Light On injured his right hind ankle during a January workout that forced him to miss the Fountain of Youth Stakes in February.

“Right now he’s at Dell Ridge Farm in Kentucky,“ Brown said. “We’ll pick him up when we go back to Keeneland. Dr. (Larry) Bramlage performed the surgery on him, and according to his report, everything went as planned, and the prognosis is excellent. Fingers crossed, we’ll pick him up at Keeneland, and hopefully he’ll be a nice horse for us during the summer.

“After surgery, they indicated that in 60 days he’d be fine to return to light training. We’ll start him up there at Keeneland and kind of let the horse tell us when he’s ready to start breezing, but I’m optimistic that this horse can be back to the races by Saratoga.“

Owned by Klaravich Stables Inc. and William Lawrence, Leave the Light On won two of three starts as a 2-year-old, including a half-length win of the Remsen over Frosted, Keen Ice and Classy Class at Aqueduct. The chestnut colt has earned $285,375.


►  Friday workout for ‘Chrome’ ahead of Dubai World Cup

Reigning Horse of the Year California Chrome put in a Friday morning workout at Los Alamitos Racecourse in advance of his next start in the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 28.

Trained by Art Sherman, “Chrome” covered six furlongs in 1:11.

Owned by Steve Coburn and Perry Martin, “Chrome” finished second to Shared Belief in last month’s $500,000 San Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita. The 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness champ was the 7-5 second pick behind even- money favorite Shared Belief for the 1 1/8-mile stakes, but finished 1 1/2 lengths behind.

The two-time Eclipse Award winner has nine wins from 17 starts for $4,322,650.


►  American Pharoah completes work for Rebel Stakes

Eclipse Award winner American Pharoah, last year’s champion 2-year-old male, wrapped up his preparations Friday for his 2015 debut in the $750,000 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Saturday, March 14.

Trained by Bob Baffert, American Pharoah had a six-furlong workout at Santa Anita and was timed in 1:10.40 and galloped out seven furlongs in 1:22.80 with Martin Garcia riding.

“He is ready,‘ owner Ahmed Zayat said. “We know he is fast, but the way he did it today was so impressive. Very happy horse.“

American Pharoah has not started since winning the FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita last September 27. He won the Del Mar Futurity after finishing fifth in his debut race last August. American Pharoah was forced to miss the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on November 1 due to a suspensory-related injury.

Also set for the Rebel is champion filly Take Charge Brandi, trained by D. Wayne Lukas for Willis Horton. On Monday morning at Oaklawn, Take Charge Brandi worked five furlongs in 1:01.80.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  ‘15 Season Preview: Galaxy hope to add to dynasty

The Los Angeles Galaxy will aim to prolong their MLS dynasty with success in the 2015 season.

Los Angeles is coming off of an MLS Cup triumph over the New England Revolution, a win that handed the Galaxy their third piece of postseason silverware in four years.

Throw in two MLS Supporters’ Shields in the last five years and there is little debate that Los Angeles is the preeminent American club.

But while form appears to be on the Galaxy’s side, there are certainly obstacles for the club to overcome in its pursuit of a sixth MLS Cup title.

Landon Donovan retired from professional soccer at the conclusion of last season, leaving L.A. without its talisman for the first time since 2004, save for his puzzling sabbatical ahead of the 2013 season.

His departure will leave striker Robbie Keane as the face of the franchise, at least until midfielder Steven Gerrard arrives in the summer.

Keane, the reigning MLS MVP, has taken America by storm since making the move to the Galaxy in 2011, netting a staggering total of 53 goals in 84 league appearances. The Irishman’s contributions have not gone unnoticed as he was handed the captaincy in the wake of Donovan’s departure.

Los Angeles has a strong supporting cast, but everyone will be waiting with bated breath for Gerrard to join in the summer.

The Englishman, who continues to fight for his place in the Liverpool team, signed a pre-contract agreement to move to Los Angeles in the summer, penning a deal that will keep him at the StubHub Center through the 2016 season.

The signing makes sense on paper as Gerrard is a proven winner with tremendous leadership capabilities, but through history, European players joining MLS teams have, more often than not, needed time to acclimate to MLS and its rigorous travel demands. It’s entirely plausible that Gerrard’s contract may expire before he really finds a groove in MLS.

While these circumstances may serve to mitigate Gerrard’s on-field contributions, the Liverpool legend certainly raises the overall profile of the league, an ancillary benefit for a club that has not gone wanting for silverware.

Gerrard also has the benefit of joining an established team that shouldn’t need sizable contributions from the onset.

Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza and Leonardo anchor a defense that conceded just 37 goals in 34 regular season matches last term, tying the Galaxy with D.C. United for the league-lead.

Jose Villarreal, Baggio Husidic and Juninho provide head coach Bruce Arena with plenty of midfield options while Robbie Rogers and Stefan Ishizaki give the Galaxy quality out wide.

Keane’s resume speaks for itself, but perhaps his best contribution has come in the manner in which he’s aided the development of young striker Gyasi Zardes, who enjoyed something of a breakout season in 2014 by scoring 16 goals in 26 appearances.

Even without Gerrard, the Galaxy have all the pieces to make another run at MLS Cup. But the Englishman could prove to be the missing piece that elevates them from contenders to favorites.

ADDITIONS: Steven Gerrard (M), Ignacio Maganto (M).

LOSSES: Landon Donovan (F).

OUTLOOK: The key pieces remain in place for the Galaxy to make a legitimate MLS Cup run. While the club does not have Donovan at its disposal, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Keane runs the show. And while leadership in the midfield may be absent for the first half of the season, Gerrard will swoop in to aid the Galaxy’s title push.


►  ‘15 Season Preview: Marsch ushers in new era for RBNY

There is no such thing as a dull offseason for Red Bull New York, which enters its 20th MLS season perpetuating its constant state of turnover.

After reaching the Eastern Conference finals and coming to within one goal of reaching MLS Cup last season, the Red Bulls tore up the flight map and started from scratch.

Star player Thierry Henry retired from professional soccer while fellow Designated Player Tim Cahill left the club for Shanghai Shenhua, leaving New York with sizable gaps to fill.

And as if that wasn’t enough of an overhaul, fan-favorite head coach Mike Petke was let go after just two seasons at the helm despite guiding the club to the MLS Supporters’ Shield in 2013, the franchise’s first and only piece of major silverware.

Jesse Marsch was tabbed as the new boss amid a great deal of uproar from Red Bulls fans, and the former Montreal Impact head coach immediately began reshaping the squad to fit his philosophy.

Bradley Wright-Phillips, who tied the single-season scoring record last year with 28 goals, was signed to a DP contract, immediately becoming the face of the team.

The Red Bulls then executed a trade with Montreal that sent Eric Alexander, Ambroise Oyongo, an international player spot and allocation money to the Impact in exchange for Felipe Martins and the top spot in the allocation order.

Marsch leveraged that position to land United States international Sacha Klejstan, a former teammate of his at Chivas USA. Klejstan brings a great deal of international experience to the Red Bulls having made a total of 180 appearances with Belgian side Anderlecht and 46 appearances with the United States national team. The 29-year-old should fill the creative void left by Henry.

The Red Bulls feel confident with their performance at the MLS SuperDraft, as well. Despite making the 18th overall selection, New York secured the services of UCLA midfielder Leo Stolz, a player Marsch rated as one of the most pro- ready talents available.

New York bolstered the attack with the signing of Sal Zizzo from expansion side New York City FC as well as the re-signing of winger Lloyd Sam. The club also added a bit of depth in the center of the park by securing Duke University product Sean Davis as a Homegrown Player.

Jamison Olave was dealt back to Real Salt Lake during the offseason while Ibrahim Sekagya retired and joined the club’s technical staff, leaving the Red Bulls to shore up the defense with the signings of Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Damien Perrinelle and Ronald Zubar.

With a core group of Dax McCarty, Roy Miller and Peguy Luyindula also returning, Marsch appears to have assembled a quality side capable of accomplishing a great deal. But no New York head coach has ever lasted more than three seasons, so it’s safe to say that Marsch will be on a short leash.

ADDITIONS: Andrew Jean-Baptiste (D), Sacha Klejstan (M), Felipe Martins (M), Leo Stolz (M), Sal Zizzo (M), Ronald Zubar (D).

LOSSES: Eric Alexander (M), Tim Cahill (M), Thierry Henry (F), Jamison Olave (D), Ambroise Oyongo (D), Ibrahim Sekagya (D).

OUTLOOK: After another offseason overhaul, the Red Bulls will need to acclimate to life under Jesse Marsch. New York boasts enough quality in its roster to sneak into the postseason, which would be a nice accomplishment for the new-look team. But the club’s first season under Marsch will be about laying the foundation to achieve greater long-term success, even if the turnover results in a playoff absence for the first time since 2009.


►  ‘15 Season Preview: High expectations for TFC in 2015

Toronto FC finds itself in a familiar position heading into the 2015 MLS season.

Like last term, the Reds, embarking on their ninth season in MLS, have welcomed a few new household names to the squad as they seek their first appearance in the postseason.

Michael Bradley and Jermain Defoe joined the Canadian club ahead of the 2014 campaign to much fanfare, but the duo struggled to make a lasting impact on the pitch as Toronto finished seventh in the Eastern Conference with a losing record.

Bradley will return to the team for another crack at making history, but Defoe has departed after an inconsistent spell in MLS. The Englishman made the switch back to the Premier League in January to join Sunderland in exchange for United States international Jozy Altidore, a move that sees the former Red Bull New York striker return to MLS after plying his trade for over six years in Europe.

Toronto continued its penchant for offseason splashes by adding 28-year-old Italian striker Sebastian Giovinco as its third Designated Player. It was a heralded signing not only for Toronto, but also MLS as it highlighted the league’s ability to lure quality players from Europe before they are deemed “over the hill.“

Apart from the club’s high-profile additions, the roster remains largely unchanged, save for a few role players coming and going.

Robbie Findley provides Toronto with some depth up front after joining the Reds through the MLS Re-Entry Draft, while Eriq Zavaleta has moved to BMO Field to help shore up a defense that conceded 54 goals last term, third-most in the East.

Striker Luke Moore will hope to improve upon his total of four goals in 14 MLS appearance with Toronto last term, though it may prove difficult with the likes of Altidore and Giovinco higher up in the pecking order.

Warren Creavalle, meanwhile, will look to establish himself alongside Michael Bradley after making the switch to Toronto from the Houston Dynamo halfway through last season.

Greg Vanney will be in charge of putting all of the pieces together, a dubious task given how fickle Toronto has proven to be with its head coaches.

No TFC boss has coached more than 64 games for the club, and even after receiving multiple votes of confidence last term, budding tactician Ryan Nelsen was let go in August, forcing the club to transition in the middle of a playoff push.

Vanney picked up the pieces and will lead the club into the new campaign, but it’s imperative that TFC makes great strides early on, or the longtime MLS defender could be looking for work before the season is complete.

ADDITIONS: Jozy Altidore (F), Benoit Cheyrou (M), Sebastian Giovinco (F), Eriq Zavaleta (D).

LOSSES: Jermain Defoe (F), Gilberto (F).

OUTLOOK: Toronto’s perpetual offseason turnover illicits playoff aspirations year after year, but why should this campaign end any differently? The Reds seem fundamentaly mismanaged from the front office to the first team, so while their high-profile additions seem good on paper, it’s tough to endorse the team as playoff contenders until they first make the postseason.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Milan needs win against Hellas Verona

AC Milan enters its match with Hellas Verona at the San Siro on Saturday in need of three points in order to revive its sputtering European ambitions.

The Rossoneri is unbeaten in three straight games, but the club enters the weekend in 10th place, eight points adrift of fifth-place Fiorentina for a spot in the Europa League.

There are also reports in Italy that have said that Milan boss Filippo Inzaghi may need to win Saturday’s game in order to keep his job.

Inzaghi was named manager in June after the firing of Clarence Seedorf, but his team’s failure to seriously challenge at the top of the league has led to reports of patience growing thin with the higher-ups at the club.

Hellas Verona is 15th in the table, but the club will be buoyed by the fact that they are coming off a 2-1 win at Cagliari that lifted the team eight points above the drop zone.

Juventus remained nine points clear of second-place Roma after the two sides played to a 1-1 draw on Monday, and the Old Lady will once again be in action on Monday with a home match against Sassuolo.

Roma can close the gap at the top to six points, at least for a day, if the capital club wins at Chievo, while Napoli sits in third place, four points back of Roma, and hosts Inter Milan.

Lazio continues its pursuit of a top-three place with a big showdown against Fiorentina as the two sides are separated by just one point.

Both teams enter the match on Monday in the Italian capital harboring hopes of reaching the Champions League, and Fiorentina brings with them an eight-game unbeaten streak in league play, while Lazio has won its last three Serie A fixtures to snap a two-game losing skid.

Sixth-place Sampdoria is in the mix for a Europa League spot and the club hosts relegation-battling Cagliari, second-from-the-bottom Cesena entertains Palermo, Genoa visits Empoli, Torino tangles with Udinese and Atalanta is set to visit Parma, which has had its last two games postponed because of financial difficulty.


►  Second-half surge leads U.S. women past Switzerland

The United States women’s national team made it two wins from two games at the Algarve Cup on Friday as the team scored three times in the second half of a 3-0 win over Switzerland.

Alex Morgan broke the deadlock in the 54th minute before Amy Rodriguez doubled the tally in the 72nd. Abby Wambach then came off the bench to net a third goal for the Americans nine minutes from time, allowing the U.S. to top its group with a win over Iceland on Monday.

The Americans controlled play throughout the game but had to wait until the second half to crack the scoreboard.

Lauren Holiday’s right-wing free kick was served toward the back post for Morgan, who timed her run perfectly to float under the ball and volley it home.

One of Switzerland’s few chances came just after the hour mark when Lara Dickenmann fired a shot on goal from the top of the box that forced goalkeeper Hope Solo to make a diving stop.

Rodriguez made it 2-0 in the 72nd when she picked up a deflected cross from Christen Press, rounded the goalkeeper, and chipped a shot past a few Swiss defenders on the goal line.

Nine minutes later Wambach capped the scoring by coming off the bench and cutting out a back pass from Nicole Remund before chipping goalkeeper Stenia Michel from the edge of the area.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Wilfork says time with Patriots is over

Vince Wilfork is set to become a free agent next week after the Pro Bowl defensive lineman said the Patriots won’t pick up his contract option.

Wilfork released a statement Thursday via Twitter, saying the Patriots told him Tuesday of their decision.

“I want to take this time to just let everyone know that I was informed on Tuesday that the Patriots will not be picking up my option,“ Wilfork wrote. “I’m in a good place (and) I have a great relationship with the Patriots organization. Please know how blessed my family and I have been to play 11 years in New England for (an) amazing organization. ... New England has been and always will be my home. I have played 11 years for the best head coach ever!“

Wilfork said he has no plans to retire.

“Can I still play football? Hell yea! Do I still love football? Hell yea!“ he wrote.

According to the Patriots’ website, Wilfork was due a $4 million roster bonus next week. The Patriots will also save about $8 million in salary cap space.

Wilfork has started all but 10 of the 158 games he has played for the Patriots since joining the team as a first-round pick in the 2004 draft. He missed the final 12 games of the 2013 season because of an Achilles injury, but returned in 2014 and started all 16 games.

The 33-year-old Miami-Florida product had 47 tackles with an interception last year. One of the premier run stuffers in the NFL, Wilfork is a five-time Pro Bowl selection and a two-time Super Bowl champion.


►  Peyton return to Broncos official

The Denver Broncos made it official on Thursday, announcing that quarterback Peyton Manning will be returning to the club for the 2015 season.

“We’re glad to work something out with Peyton so that he will be part of our team this season,“ said Broncos executive vice president/general manager John Elway.

According to reports on Wednesday, Manning will play an 18th NFL season on a reduced salary in 2015, agreeing to a $4 million cut with the Broncos.

ESPN first reported the news that Manning will have his pay slashed from $19 million to $15 million next season, with the Denver Post confirming the news.

According to NFL.com, the five-time NFL MVP can still earn the $4 million back in incentives.

Manning is entering the fourth season of a five-year, $95 million contract he signed with the Broncos in March of 2012. The soon-to-be 39-year-old has started every game during his tenure with the club and led Denver to an AFC championship in 2013, though his struggles near the end of last season and the Broncos’ plans to make changes on offense under new head coach Gary Kubiak led to speculation that Manning would consider not returning.

“I’m excited Peyton is returning, and I look forward to working with him and all our players starting next month,“ said Kubiak.

It marks the first time in Manning’s storied career that he has agreed to a pay cut.

The team is budgeting $12.823 million to account for the franchise tag designated Monday for wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. Tight end Julius Thomas, defensive tackle Terrance Knighton and offensive lineman Orlando Franklin are set to hit the market.

Manning finished second in the NFL with 39 touchdown passes this past season after throwing for a league-record 55 in 2013. The NFL’s all-time leader in that category finished last year’s campaign with 4,727 passing yards and a 101.5 quarterback rating.


►  Dolphins re-sign OL Fox

The Miami Dolphins re-signed offensive lineman Jason Fox on Thursday.

Financial terms of the two-year deal were not disclosed.

“We are excited that we have reached an agreement with Jason to keep him with the Miami Dolphins,“ said general manager Dennis Hickey on Thursday. “He was a very positive addition for us last season both on the field and in the community.“

Fox joined the Dolphins as a free agent last year after spending his first four seasons with the Detroit Lions. He appeared in nine games last season, starting the last two at right tackle.

The University of Miami product has played in 22 games with five starts in his NFL career.


►  Extra Points: Ryan foreshadows his plan in Buffalo

There are quite a few NFL teams who need a quarterback but this is not the year to find one.

The free-agent market is headlined by names like Mark Sanchez and Jake Locker, while the draft has only two signal callers with first-round grades (Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota), and one of them is regarded as more of a project, especially if you are planning on using a traditional, pro-style offense.

Rex Ryan, the new head coach of the Buffalo Bills, saw that landscape and decided to lay up and play for par, acquiring a dynamic high-priced running back to build his offensive around before snagging veteran QB Matt Cassel from the Minnesota Vikings.

Neither trade will be official until the start of the new league year on March 10 but it’s now clear what Ryan wants, continued dominant defensive play coupled with competent stewardship from Cassel as LeSean McCoy carries the offensive load from the backfield.

A day after the Bills agreed to send promising young linebacker Kiko Alonso to Philadelphia for McCoy, the team confirmed that Cassel was on his way back to the AFC East, along with a 2015 sixth-round pick, in exchange for a pair of late-round selections, a fifth-rounder this year and a seventh-round choice in ‘16.

Whether Ryan’s plan is plausible or not is another matter. McCoy is not only a big-ticket item, he’s also a player who seems to be on the downside of his career and hardly the ground-and-pound type Ryan claimed he wanted.

After a brilliant ‘13 season, McCoy morphed into post CJ2K Chris Johnson, always looking for the home run last year and not taking the yards blocked for him, a style that frustrated Eagles coach Chip Kelly so much it sped up Shady’s exit from the City of Brotherly Love.

Unlike McCoy, the 32-year-old Cassel comes with a moderate price tag for a starter, especially considering the position he plays. The veteran has one year remaining on the two-year, $10 million deal he signed with the Vikings last March when he was expected to be the placeholder for Teddy Bridgewater, He will make just $4.15 million of that in ‘15.

“It’s a great opportunity (for Cassel),“ Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “He wants that opportunity to be a starter, and obviously we wish him the best. Obviously, he was set to make a lot of money here (as a backup). There were a lot of things all going through (the trade).“

Things were going as planned for Cassel in Minnesota last season and he was putting in yeoman work before a foot injury put him on the shelf for the remainder of the season in Week 4. Bridgewater in turn played so well as a rookie the Vikings felt comfortable moving forward without their security blanket in exchange for a couple of future assets.

“I’m a big fan of Matt,“ Turner said. “It’s just too bad (about) the injury he had, because I think he was getting ready to have a real solid year.“

Cassel will be taking on a familiar role in Western New York in the hopes he can mentor and help develop a young player with upside in E.J. Manuel.

Manuel, the Bills first-round pick in 2013, was benched by ex-coach Doug Marrone in favor of the now retired Kyle Orton last season. He’ll be getting a clean slate with Ryan but it’s pretty clear the new regime isn’t counting on the former Florida State star just yet, first playing footsie with the 35- year-old Josh McCown, who eventually signed in Cleveland, before settling for Cassel.

Cassel is no star but he’s got plenty of NFL experience, compiling a 33-38 record over the years as a starter and twice reaching double digits in wins, as Tom Brady’s injury replacement in New England during the 2008 season and as Kansas City’s leader two years later.    ~~  John McMullen ~~


►  Maurice Jones-Drew announces retirement from NFL

Former Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones- Drew has announced his retirement from the National Football League.

Jones-Drew spent last season with the Oakland Raiders. He carried the ball just 43 times for 96 yards in 12 games.

The 29-year-old spent the first eight seasons of his career with Jacksonville, totaling 1,804 rushing attempts for 8,071 yards and 68 touchdowns from 2006-13. He also had 2,873 yards and 11 touchdowns receiving with the Jaguars.

In a statement he posted on Twitter, Jones-Drew said: “After much discussion with my family and business team during this off-season, I’ve decided to retire from the National Football League. The past nine years were absolutely amazing! I’ll be forever grateful to the countless people who have assisted me throughout my NFL career. To my fans and NFL fans worldwide, you are the absolute greatest! But for you, our league would not exist. Football has been a central part of my life for the past 24 years. But now I’m excited about and looking forward to the next chapter of my life.“

The three-time Pro Bowler won the NFL rushing title in 2011 with 1,606 rushing yards. He was drafted by the Jaguars in the second round of the 2006 draft.


►  Panthers extend Olsen

The Carolina Panthers signed Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen to a three-year contract extension on Thursday.

The Charlotte Observer reports that Olsen’s contract is worth $22.5 million and includes a $12 million signing bonus.

Olsen was coming off a career season in which he compiled 84 catches for 1,008 yards, setting new franchise records by a tight end for the NFC South champion Panthers. He also added six touchdown receptions.

“Now to have this contract that guarantees that I’ll play the rest of my career in Charlotte is a tremendous blessing,“ Olsen said. “We’re just so thankful for the team believing in me and wanting me to still be a part of this. As a team, we have a lot of special times ahead of us.“

The 29-year-old is the only tight end to catch at least five touchdown passes in every season since 2008 and has played in 126 straight games.

Drafted 31st overall by the Bears in 2007, Olsen has recorded 465 catches for 5,188 yards and 42 touchdowns in 126 career games over eight seasons with the Bears and Panthers.


►  Dockett heading to San Francisco

The San Francisco 49ers and defensive lineman Darnell Dockett have agreed to terms on a two-year contract.

Dockett, a three-time Pro Bowl pick, was released by the Arizona Cardinals last week. He missed the entire 2014 season after suffering a knee injury in training camp.

The 33-year-old veteran had spent his entire career with the Cardinals, who selected the Florida State product in the third round of the 2004 draft. He has compiled 459 tackles, 40 1/2 sacks, seven forced fumbles and four interceptions in 158 career games.

The 49ers also signed wide receiver Jerome Simpson to a two-year deal. Simpson has played for the Bengals (2008-11) and Vikings (2012-13), recording 145 receptions for 2,004 yards and eight touchdowns.


►  Chiefs release LB Mays

The Kansas City Chiefs released linebacker Joe Mays on Thursday.

Mays was limited to eight games in 2014 because of a wrist injury suffered during the preseason. He finished with 20 combined tackles in three starts in his only season with the Chiefs.

The 29-year-old Mays has played in 69 games (38 starts) in seven NFL seasons with the Chiefs (2014), Texans (2013), Broncos (2010-12) and Eagles (2008-09). His career numbers include 240 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks.

The Gilmer Free Press


References
ABC - American Broadcasting Company
CBS - Columbia Broadcast System
FOX - Fox Entertainment Group
NBC - National Broadcasting Company
JIP - Joined in Progress
DSS - DIRECTV
TSN - Sports Network (Canada)
SNET/SN - Rogers SportsNet (Canada)
RDS - Reseau des sports
MSG - Madison Square Garden Network
TNT - Turner Network Television
TBS - Turner Broadcasting System
SNY - SportsNet New York
CBSSN - CBS - College Sports Network
CSN - Comcast SportsNet
TCN - The Comcast Network
NBCSN - NBC Sports Network
NESN - New England Sports Network
MASN - Mid-Atlantic Sports Network
ROOT - Root Sports (Pittsburgh, Northwest, Rocky Mountain)
CST - Cox Sports Television
FCS - FOX College Sports
FS - FOX Sports Regional
RSN - Regional Sports Networks
CPTV - Connecticut Public Broadcasting
TVG - Horse Racing Channel
FS1 - FOX Sports 1
TWC - Time Warner Cable Sports Channel
* - If Necessary


SATURDAY, MARCH 07, 2015
Major League Baseball - Spring Training
St. Louis vs. Washington, 1:05 PM - MASN
Toronto vs. Philadelphia, 1:05 PM - TCN-Philadelphia, MLB Network
Atlanta vs. NY Mets, 1:10 PM - WPIX
Los Angeles vs. Cleveland, 3:05 PM - SportsNet LA
San Diego vs. San Francisco, 3:05 PM - CSN-Bay
Texas vs. Milwaukee, 3:05 PM - FS-Wisconsin
National Basketball Association
Memphis at New Orleans, 7:00 PM - SportSouth, FS-New Orleans, DSS
Sacramento at Miami, 7:30 PM - CSN-California, SunSports, DSS
Indiana at New York, 7:30 PM - FS-Indiana, MSG, DSS
Atlanta at Philadelphia, 7:30 PM - SportSouth, CSN-Philadelphila, DSS
Phoenix at Cleveland, 7:30 PM - FS-Arizona, Ohio, NBA TV, DSS
Portland at Minnesota, 8:00 PM - CSN-Northwest, FS-North, DSS
Washington at Milwaukee, 8:30 PM - CSN-DC+, FS-Wisconsin, DSS
Houston at Denver, 9:00 PM - ROOT-Southwest, Altitude, DSS
National Hockey League
Philadelphia at Boston, 1:00 PM - CSN-Philadelphia, NESN, NHL Network, DSS
NY Islanders at Florida, 7:00 PM - MSG+, FS-Florida, DSS
Colorado at Columbus, 7:00 PM - Altitude2, FS-Ohio, DSS
Dallas at Tampa Bay, 7:00 PM - FS-Southwest, SunSports, DSS
Buffalo at Washington, 7:00 PM - MSG-Buffalo, CSN-DC, DSS
Montreal at Arizona, 7:00 PM - TVA, CITY, FS-Arizona+, DSS
Winnipeg at Nashville, 7:00 PM - SNET, FS-Tennessee, DSS
St. Louis at Toronto, 7:00 PM - FS-Midwest, CBC, NHL Network, DSS
Pittsburgh at Los Angeles, 10:00 PM - ROOT-Pittsburgh, FS-West, DSS
Vancouver at San Jose, 10:00 PM - CBC, CSN-California, DSS
College Basketball
Pittsburgh at Florida State, 12:00 PM - ESPN 2
Seton Hall at Georgetown, 12:00 PM - FS1
Michigan State at Indiana, 12:00 PM - ESPN
MAAC Tournament, 12:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Northwestern at Iowa, 12:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Syracuse at NC State, 12:00 PM - CBS
Butler at Providence, 12:00 PM - FSN, MASN2
Bryant at Robert Morris, 12:00 PM - MSG, FCS
Big South Tournament, 12:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Miami-Florida at Virginia Tech, 12:00 PM - RSN
CAA Tournament, 12:00 PM - CSN
Southern Tournament, 12:00 PM - ESPN3.com
LSU at Arkansas, 2:00 PM - ESPN
Wake Forest at Boston College, 2:00 PM - RSN, NESN, ACC Network
Xavier at Creighton, 2:00 PM - FS2
Florida at Kentucky, 2:00 PM - CBS
DePaul at Marquette, 2:00 PM - FS1
Saint Joseph’s at Rhode Island, 2:00 PM - Ocean State Network
St. Francis (PA) at St. Francis (NY), 2:00 PM - MSG, FCS
Big South Tournament, 2:00 PM - ESPn3.com
Connecticut at Temple, 2:00 PM - ESPN 2
Alabama at Texas A&M, 2:00 PM - FSN
St. John’s at Villanova, 2:00 PM - FOX
Oklahoma State at West Virginia, 2:00 PM - ESPNews
Rutgers at Michigan, 2:15 PM - Big Ten Network
California at Arizona State, 2:30 PM - Pac-12 Network
Hofstra vs. James Madison, 2:30 PM - CSN
Canisius vs. Monmouth, 2:30 PM - ESPN3.com
East Tennessee State vs. Western Carolina, 2:30 PM - ESPN3.com
MVC Tournament, 2:35 PM - MVC TV
Portland vs. St. Mary’s, 3:00 PM - ROOT-Northwest, CSN-California
UMKC at Texas-Pan American, 3:00 PM - American Sports Network
Massachusetts at George Washington, 3:30 PM - NBCSN
Stanford at Arizona, 4:00 PM - CBS
Georgia at Auburn, 4:00 PM - SEC Network
Dayton at La Salle, 4:00 PM - CBSSN
Clemson at Notre Dame, 4:00 PM - ACC Network, RSN
Kansas at Oklahoma, 4:00 PM - ESPN
Tulane at South Florida, 4:00 PM - ESPNews
Fordham at St. Bonaventure, 4:00 PM - Time Warner Sports
South Carolina at Tennessee, 4:00 PM - FSN
Kansas State at Texas, 4:00 PM - ESPN 2
Sacramento State at Northern Arizona, 4:05 PM - FS-Arizona, FCS-Atlantic
Illinois at Purdue, 4:30 PM - Big Ten Network
Utah at Washington, 4:30 PM - Pac-12 Network
MVC Tournament, 5:05 PM - MVC TV
Western Kentucky at Old Dominion, 5:30 PM - American Sports Network
San Diego vs. Pepperdine, 5:30 PM - ROOT-Northwest, CSN-California
MAAC Tournament, 5:30 PM - ESPN3.com
George Mason at VCU, 5:30 PM - NBCSN
Southern Tournament, 6:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Brown at Harvard, 6:00 PM - CBSSN
Columbia at Princeton, 6:00 PM - Ivy League Digital Network
Cal Poly at UC Santa Barbara, 6:00 PM - FS-Prime Ticket
CAA Tournament, 6:00 PM - CSN
Virginia at Louisville, 6:30 PM - ESPN
Missouri at Miss State, 6:30 PM - SEC Network
Colorado at Washington State, 6:30 PM - Pac-12 Network
Davidson at Duquesne, 7:00 PM - American Sports Network
Horizon Tournament, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Western Ill vs. South Dakota State, 7:00 PM - MidcoSN, ESPN3.com
OVC Championship, 7:00 PM - ESPN 2
Sam Houston State at Stephen F. Austin, 7:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Fresno State at Boise State, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Hawaii at CS Fullerton, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com
UAB at FIU, 8:00 PM - American Sports network
MAAC Tournament, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Wyoming at New Mexico, 8:00 PM - CBSSN
Saint Louis at Richmond, 8:00 PM - Atlantic 10 Network
VMI vs. Mercer, 8:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Delaware vs. Northeastern, 8:30 PM - CSN
Iowa State at TCU, 8:30 PM - ESPNews
WCC Tournament, 9:00 PM - ESPN 2
Seattle at Grand Canyon, 9:00 PM - COX7
Duke at North Carolina, 9:00 PM - ESPN
Vanderbilt at Ole Miss, 9:00 PM - SEC Network
Colorado State at Utah State, 9:00 PM - ROOT-Rocky Mountain
Denver vs. North Dakota State, 9:30 PM - MidcoSN, ESPN3.com
Horizon League Tournament, 9:30 PM - ESPN U
UNLV at San Jose State, 10:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Nevada at San Diego State, 10:05 PM - CBSSN
WCC Tournament, 11:30 PM - ESPN 2
Women’s College Basketball
Atlantic 10 Tournament, 11:00 AM - CBSSN
ACC Tournament, 12:00 PM - ESPN U
Iowa State vs. Oklahoma State, 12:00 PM - FSN
Binghamton vs. Maine, 12:00 PM - ESPN3.com
East Carolina vs. Temple, 12:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Fort Wayne vs. South Dakota, 1:00 PM - MidcoSN, ESPN3.com
Atlantic 10 Tournament, 1:30 PM - CBSSN
AAC Tournament, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
OVC Championship, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Hartford vs. New Hampshire, 2:15 PM - ESPN3.com
ACC Tournament, 2:30 PM - ESPN U
Big 12 Tournament, 2:30 PM - FSN
Providence vs. Marquette, 3:00 PM - Big East Digital Network
Denver vs. South Dakota State, 3:30 PM - MidcoSN, ESPN3.com
SEC Tournament, 5:00 PM - ESPN U
Georgetown vs. Xavier, 5:30 PM - Big East Digital Network
Vermont vs. Albany, 6:00 PM - ESPN3.com
AAC Tournament, 6:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Big South Tournament, 6:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Big 12 Tournament, 7:00 PM - FSN
Big Ten Tournament, 7:00 PM - Big Ten Network
SEC Tournament, 7:25 PM - ESPN U
AAC Tournament, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Big South Tournament, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com
UMBC vs. Stony Brook, 8:15 PM - ESPN3.com
Pac-12 Tournament, 9:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Big Ten Tournament, 9:25 PM - Big Ten Network
Texas vs. TCU, 9:30 PM - FSN
Pac-12 Tournament, 11:30 PM - Pac-12 Network
College Hockey
Minnesota at Ohio State, 6:00 PM - ESPNews
Wisconsin at Michigan State, 7:00 PM - FS-Detroit, Wisconsin+
North Dakota at Miami-Ohio, 7:00 PM - FCS
Major League Soccer
Montreal at D.C. United, 3:00 PM - RDS, CSN-DC, DSS
Colorado at Philadelphia, 4:00 PM - Altitude, 6ABC, DSS
Toronto at Vancouver, 6:00 PM - TSN, RDS2, DSS
Columbus at Houston, 8:30 PM - Time Warner-Ohio, DSS
San Jose at FC Dallas, 8:30 PM - CSN-Bay, TXA-21, DSS
Real Salt Lake at Portland, 10:30 PM - KMYU, DSS
International Soccer
Bradford vs. Reading, 7:30 AM - FS1
Ipswich Town FC vs. Brentford FC, 9:55 AM - beIN Sports
Queens Park Rangers vs. Tottenham Hotspur, 9:55 AM - NBCSN
Athletic Club vs. Real Madrid CF, 11:55 AM - beIN Sports
AC Milan vs. Hellas Verona FC, 2:40 PM - beIN Sports
Golf
EUROPEAN - Africa Open, 7:30 AM - Golf Channel
PGA - WGC Cadillac Championship, 12:00 PM - Golf Channel
PGA - WGC Cadillac Championship, 3:00 PM - NBC
Auto Racing
Sprint Cup - practice, 2:30 PM - FS1
Xfinity - Boyd Gaming 300, 4:00 PM - FS1
Horse Racing
Gotham Stakes, 4:30 PM - TVG
Boxing
Thurman vs. Guerrero, 8:30 PM - NBC

Lady Pioneers Fall to Shepherd in MEC Quarterfinals 100-91‏

The Gilmer Free Press

Glenville State’s Keyanna Tate scored a game high 30 points and grabbed a game high 13 rebounds as she finished with a double-double but it wouldn’t be enough as the Lady Pioneers fell to the Shepherd University Lady Rams in the MEC Quarterfinals, 100-91.

In the first half of action the Shepherd University Lady Rams would get on the scoreboard first to take an early, 2-0 lead over Glenville State. Shepherd would then build an eight points lead, 10-2, with 16:14 left till halftime.

However the Lady Pioneers would then go on a 6-0 run at the 15:50 minute mark as they made it, 10-7. Again Shepherd would extend their lead back up to nine points, 29-20, with under 10:00 minutes till halftime. The Lady Rams would build a double digit lead several times in the first half, however Glenville State would go into halftime down by eight, 51-43.

In the second half Shepherd would come out strong and take a 17 point lead, 71-54, with 13:42 to play. Glenville State would continue to battle and cut it to eight, 75-67 at the 11:09 minute mark.

Again the Lady Rams would build their lead back up to 15 points, 86-71, with only 6:16 left to play in the game. However the Lady Pioneers would have one last chance and cut Shepherds lead to seven points, 94-87, with 1:50 left to play, but that as close as Glenville State would get as they fall to Shepherd, 100-91.

Shepherd shot 49 percent from the floor while Glenville State finished the game shooting 42 percent from the floor. The Lady Pioneers scored 19 second chance points to the Lady Rams 14 second chance points.

Keyanna Tate finished with a double-double scoring 30 points and pulling down 13 rebounds in her last game as a Lady Pioneer, fellow senior Katrina Salins scored 10 points. Freshmen Kayla Tibbs and Kristen DesRocher both scored nine points while Paige Tuttle dished out a team high four assists.

Shepherd was led by Gabby Flinchum as she scored a team high 26 points and had 10 rebounds for a double-double. Also for the Lady Rams Briana Vaden chipped in with 25 points.

The Lady Pioneers (15-13, 12-10) season now comes to an end, congratulations to the team and seniors for a great year.


Official Basketball Box Score
Glenville State vs. Shepherd
03.05.15  12:00 PM   at Charleston, WV - Charleston Civic Center
————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
VISITORS: Glenville State 15-13

                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
02 Paige Tuttle…..... *  1-8    0-5    3-4    0  1  1   3   5  4  1  1  1  18
04 Keyanna Tate…..... * 12-19   0-0    6-7    5  8 13   4  30  0  3  0  2  21
12 Kayla Tibbs…...... *  3-5    2-2    1-2    0  2  2   2   9  1  0  0  1  21
20 Briauna Nix…...... *  1-5    0-0    0-0    3  2  5   3   2  0  1  0  0  18
24 Madison Martin…... *  1-5    1-4    2-3    0  1  1   2   5  0  0  0  0  20
01 Katrina Salins…...    4-10   2-4    0-0    1  2  3   3  10  2  5  0  1  22
03 Tayana Stewart…...    2-4    1-2    0-0    1  0  1   0   5  1  1  0  0   9
10 Skyy Lewis….......    0-0    0-0    0-0    1  0  1   0   0  0  0  0  0  0+
21 Kristin DesRocher…    3-8    3-8    0-0    0  2  2   1   9  1  0  0  0  15
25 Briana Smythe…....    2-2    0-0    0-0    2  3  5   2   4  1  1  1  0  11
32 Brittany Jackson….    0-2    0-1    2-2    2  1  3   4   2  2  3  0  4  18
34 La’Shaughn Jones….    2-3    0-0    0-0    1  0  1   1   4  3  0  2  0   9
35 Julie Bishop….....    2-7    2-6    0-0    0  1  1   0   6  1  0  0  0  18
   TEAM….............                         1  1  2
   Totals…...........   33-78  11-32  14-18  17 24 41  25  91 16 15  4  9 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 16-38 42.1%   2nd Half: 17-40 42.5%   Game: 42.3%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  5-15 33.3%   2nd Half:  6-17 35.3%   Game: 34.4%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  6-9  66.7%   2nd Half:  8-9  88.9%   Game: 77.8%    3

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
HOME TEAM: Shepherd 21-8

                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
00 Gabby Flinchum…... *  9-14   0-0    8-9    2  8 10   3  26  0  2  3  2  26
10 Cara Mason…....... *  2-5    0-0    2-2    1  0  1   0   6  2  1  0  0  11
11 Briana Vaden…..... *  6-13   2-5   11-12   0  3  3   2  25  7  3  0  2  30
14 Rachel Johnson…... *  7-12   3-4    0-1    2  6  8   3  17  4  2  1  1  39
35 Alex Weakland….... *  5-7    1-1    0-0    2  6  8   4  11  1  2  2  1  34
03 Morgan Arden….....    2-11   1-1    2-2    1  3  4   4   7  6  4  0  0  27
20 Liz Myers…........    2-5    0-0    1-2    3  0  3   2   5  2  0  0  3  22
21 Hailey Brown….....    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   1   0  0  0  0  0  0+
22 Maggie McLoughlin…    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  1  0  0  0   3
24 Kristina Prange…..    1-2    0-0    1-2    0  2  2   0   3  0  0  0  0   7
32 Jazmyne Howard…...    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0   1
   TEAM….............                         3  1  4
   Totals…...........   34-69   7-11  25-30  14 29 43  19 100 23 14  6  9 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 19-36 52.8%   2nd Half: 15-33 45.5%   Game: 49.3%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  3-5  60.0%   2nd Half:  4-6  66.7%   Game: 63.6%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half: 10-13 76.9%   2nd Half: 15-17 88.2%   Game: 83.3%    2

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
Officials: Balster, Wilkinson, Link

Technical fouls: Glenville State-None. Shepherd-None.

Attendance:

Score by Periods                1st  2nd   Total
Glenville State…............   43   48  -   91
Shepherd…...................   51   49  -  100

Mountain East Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament Quarterfinal Game #1

Sports News   150306

The Gilmer Free Press


The Gilmer Free Press

►  MEC Women’s Basketball Tournament: Shepherd 100-Glenville State 91‏

Second-seeded Shepherd University continued its winning ways taking control of its quarterfinal-round Mountain East Conference Basketball Tournament game with seventh-seeded Glenville State early and rolling to a 100-91 victory here Thursday afternoon at the Charleston Civic Center.

The win was the eighth in the last nine games for the Rams, who improved to 21-8 overall and will advance to Saturday’s semifinal round where they will face sixth-seeded Notre Dame College at 2:15 PM The Falcons (19-11) rallied in the second half to knock off third-seeded CharlestonThursday afternoon, 65-55.

Shepherd seniors Gabby Flinchum and Briana Vaden combined for over half of the Rams’ points in the victory. Flinchum posted her second double-double performance of the season finishing with a team-high 26 points and 10 rebounds, while Vaden turned in a career-high 25-point effort, which included an 11-of-12 performance from the foul line. She also handed out a game-high seven assists.

“I wanted to win so bad,“ said Flinchum, the Rams’ 6-3 center. “We didn’t get a chance to come here last year. This year we’ve had a huge turnaround and we all wanted to win down here so bad.

“I just wanted to do my part and contribute the best way I knew how. We knew they were going to trap outside and I was open and my teammates got me the ball. When I was covered I had no trouble kicking it back out because our guards can shoot.“

The Rams connected on 49.3% (34-of-69) of their shots from the field in the win, including a 7-of-11 showing (63.6%) from 3-point range. Shepherd was also solid at the foul line where it made 25-of-30 attempts (83.3%).


“We knew Glenville was a tough draw for us coming in with the way they press and the way they can shoot the ball, but I really thought the best thing we did today was stop their runs,“ said first-year Shepherd coach Jenna Eckleberry. “It seemed like every time they started to make a run we were able to answer it. As a team we showed a lot of poise and confidence handling their pressure and stopping their runs.“

Glenville State, which finished the season with a 15-13 record, never led in the contest. The Pioneers, led by senior Keyanna Tate’s game-high 30 points and 13 rebounds, made numerous attempts to execute one of their game-changing spurts, but on this day Shepherd was equal to the task.

“It was one of those games where it just wasn’t our day,“ said GSC coach Charles Marshall. “We gave great effort today. Our kids played their butts off. We were down 17 there at one point and fought back and made it a game, but we just couldn’t get all the way back.

“Give Shepherd credit. They made shots every time we attempted to come back and made big plays when they had to.“

Tate, who recorded her team-leading seventh double-double performance of the season, agrees.

“It was frustrating because every time we made a run they were knocking down shots,“ said Tate. “It wasn’t our best performance on defense. They were knocking down shots that we wanted them to take and they did a good job of getting and making shots that we didn’t want them to take.“

Shepherd also got 17 points and eight rebounds from senior guard Rachel Johnson and 11 points and eight boards from senior guard Alex Weakland.

The Rams’ second-leading scorer for the season, sophomore guard Cara Mason, only played 11 total minutes and finished with six points before leaving in the opening half with an ankle injury which will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis.

“Cara is a go-to player and scorer for us and when she went down we knew someone had to step up and I felt why not me,“ said Vaden.

The only other Glenville State player to reach double digits in scoring besides Tate was senior guard Katrina Salinas, who finished with 10 points. The Pioneers also got nine points apiece from Kayla Tibbs and Kristin DesRocher.


►  MEC Women’s Basketball Tournament: Notre Dame 65-Charleston 55‏

The third time was indeed a charm for Notre Dame College here Saturday afternoon in the quarterfinal round of the Mountain East Conference Basketball Tournament at the Charleston Civic Center.

The sixth-seeded Falcons used a 25-4 run over the course of a 9:24 span in the second half to wipe out a nine-point deficit and record their third win of the season over third-seeded Charleston, 65-55.

The victory improved Notre Dame to 19-11 on the year and sets up a meeting with second-seeded Shepherd University (21-8) in the tournament semifinals Saturday at 2:15 p.m. The Rams eliminated seventh-seeded Glenville in Thursday’s first quarterfinal round game, 100-91.

“Obviously this game was a tale of two halves for us,“ said Notre Dame coach Katie Hine. “The first half was a combination of two things for us. We couldn’t figure out how to score and when we did get good looks they weren’t going in.

“In the second half we had to go to the drawing board and adjust some things mainly to open these two (Martha Nagbe and Lauren Langenderfer) up and to take advantage of some holes in their 1-3-1 defense. If they weren’t going to adjust their defense we had to adjust our offense.“


The adjustments worked and allowed Notre Dame to both press defensively and get into its up-and-down the court attack on offense which in turn changed the game.

“I thought we did a tremendous job in the first half of playing very hard and playing with a lot of energy and effort,“ said UC coach Adam Collins, whose squad fell to 22-7 with the loss. “That was something we lacked in our first two meetings with them.

“In the second half they (Notre Dame) picked up their energy and we didn’t push back enough. We shot a higher percentage than they did, we made more field goals than they did and we out-rebounded them so the only two different categories there is they shot a lot more free throws than we did and we turned the ball over 23 times (20 of which came in the second half). That’s a testament to how hard they played. They got in positions to get fouled and they were very active with their press.“

Charleston led 30-19 at the half and held a 38-29 advantage with 14:09remaining when Notre Dame caught fire. Led by junior guards Langenderfer and Nagbe, who finished with 15 and 14 points respectively in the win, the Falcons exploded on their game-changing 25-4 run which turned their nine-point deficit into a 54-42 lead with 4:42 to play.

“They were trying to slow the game down, but once we started hitting some shots it allowed us to get into our press, turn up our defensive pressure and get going,“ said Langenderfer, who added a game-high 11 rebounds to post her first double-double performance of the season. “We like to play uptempo. We weren’t doing that in the first half. The second half was a different story.“

Nagbe, the conference’s player of the year who was held scoreless in the game until the 16:49 mark of the second half, agrees.

“There was one play there around when that run started that we made on defense which sparked us,“ said Nagbe. “Usually that’s all it takes to get us going.

“It was a bit frustrating for me in the first half. Being named the player of the year I felt like I needed to come out and play well, but I wasn’t hitting shots so I just tried to do like coach tells me to do when I’m not hitting shots and that’s just to keep playing hard on defense. It worked.“

Nagbe scored 12 of her 14 points in the game’s last 13 minutes.

Charleston turned the basketball over nine times in a span of just 6:26during the stretch when the Falcons took control of the contest.

“They did a good job of speeding the game up in the second half and it just changed the whole flow of it,“ said Charleston sophomore forward Monet Saunders, who finished with six points and four rebounds. “That led to us having a lot of turnovers. Instead of staying calm and continuing to play our game we felt like we had to score in a hurry in the second half.“

The Falcons also got 13 points from sophomore forward Kelsey Miller in the victory, eight points from junior guard Jessica Garcia and seven points from senior forward Molly Ritz.

Charleston was led by junior center Kiara Johnson’s 16 points and seven rebounds. The Golden Eagles also got 10 points and six boards from junior guard Deja Gibson and nine points from senior guard LeAnne Ross.


►  MEC Women’s Basketball Tournament: West Liberty 73-UVa-Wise 68 (2OT)‏

It took West Liberty an extra 10 minutes but the top-seeded Hilltoppers advanced to Saturday’s semifinal round of the Mountain East Conference Basketball Tournament by virtue of a hard-fought 73-68 double overtime victory in the quarterfinals over ninth-seeded UVa.-Wise here at the Charleston Civic Center Thursday evening.

The victory improved West Liberty to 21-8 and puts them in the tournament semifinals Saturday at noon for the second straight year.

“I’ll give our kids credit because they understand, like we all do, that tonight we did not bring our ‘A’ game,“ said veteran West Liberty coach Lynn Ullom. “That happens. We’re all victims of that at times. We just did not play well tonight, but like I told them as we left the locker room we made just enough plays and the most important thing is we’re still alive.

“My heart goes out to UVa-Wise. We’ve played three games against them and they could’ve beaten us in all three. That team won’t quit. They try unbelievably hard, but at the end of the day we made plays when we absolutely had to make them tonight and for that I’ll give my team credit.“

The contest was close throughout just like the two regular-season meetings between the teams which were decided by six points and three points. Thursday neither team led by more than five points at any juncture of the game.

“We played our guts out tonight,“ said Cavaliers’ coach Kristin Kunzman. “We’ve played them close three times. We lost by a couple of buckets at our place, by three up there and then almost had them in double overtime in the conference tournament. We played really, really hard and so did they.


“They’re a phenomenal team. They’ve got depth, great shooters and (Kailee) Howe who I think is one of the best guards in the league. One thing I think which hurt us is we gave them too many second chances on offense tonight.“

A Hillary Southworth free throw with 1:27 left in regulation knotted the score at 56. Both teams then had opportunities to win the contest, but neither could take advantage of them.

In the first overtime the Cavaliers’ Blair Harding drained a 3-pointer with 10.5 seconds left to give her team a two-point lead, but on the other end Howe got a scoop shot to fall with 3.8 seconds left to tie it at 64. Howe then stole the inbounds pass and launched a desperation 3-pointer for the win at the buzzer that wasn’t close.

In the second overtime an eight-foot jumper by Howe gave West Liberty the lead for good at 66-64 with 3:50 to play. Trailing 71-68 in the final 30 seconds the Cavaliers’ Harding got two good looks at potential game-tying 3-pointers but neither would fall and Southworth sealed the 73-68 victory for the Hilltoppers with a pair of free throws with 3.3 seconds left.

“Like coach Ullom said today was not one of our better games defensively or offensively,“ said West Liberty junior guard Liz Flowers, who finished with 12 points and eight rebounds. “There at the end we came together and got some huge plays from both Kailee Howe and Kierra Simpson. It wasn’t pretty, but we got it to overtime and then to double overtime and we won it so we’re happy.“

Southworth, a senior guard, led West Liberty with 17 points, 10 of which came after halftime. Simpson, a junior forward, finished with her 10thdouble-double outing of the season. She scored 15 points and grabbed 11 boards. Eleven of her points came in the final 6:49 of regulation and in the overtime periods. Howe, a junior point guard, chipped in 12 points, eight of which came in the two overtimes. She, however, also suffered 12 turnovers.

Wise got 17 points and eight rebounds from sophomore point guard Taylor Sandidge. She scored eight of the Cavaliers’ 12 points in the two overtime periods

“It was frustrating for us at the end of the game because we did have chances to put them away and we didn’t,“ said Sandidge. “One the positive side, though, I think we sent a message with our play that as a team we’re never going to quit.“

The Cavaliers, who finished the season with a 10-20 record, also got 16 points and seven rebounds from sophomore center Kayla Carey and 10 points, seven rebounds and four assists from Harding, a junior guard.


►  MEC Women’s Basketball Tournament: Wheeling Jesuit 85-Fairmont State 76

Wheeling Jesuit shot 58 percent from the field and scored 50 points in the paint to help it defeat Fairmont State, 85-76, on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Mountain East Conference Tournament.

With the win, Wheeling Jesuit improves to 19-8 and advances to take on rival West Liberty on Saturday at noon.

Jaila Bryant led the way for the Cardinals with 23 points to go with seven rebounds and and seven assists. Lydia Hyburg hit 8-of-12 from field for 19 points and tallied six rebounds. Mariah Callen scored 12 and Jaana Motton had 10 points for WJU.

Fairmont State (22-8) was led by 27 points from Hallie Gunnoe. Hailey Garrett scored 15 points before fouling out, and Emily Lohr contributed 14 points, seven rebounds and two assists.



<The Gilmer Free Press

►  Top-25 College Men’s Basketball Game Results

(Thursday, March 05)


Final Score: (5) Arizona 99, California 60

Arizona clinched its second straight outright Pac-12 title in a most convincing fashion, with the fifth-ranked Wildcats dominating California in all facets in a 99-60 rout at the McKale Center. Brandon Ashley led the way with a career high-tying 21 points, Kaleb Tarczewski added 14 with eight rebounds and T.J. McConnell dished out 11 assists without a turnover as Arizona (27-3, 15-2 Pac-12) kept itself in the hunt for a possible No. 1 regional seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats had already secured the top seed in the upcoming Pac-12 Tournament with Saturday’s 63-57 win at No. 13 Utah that completed a season sweep of the second-place Utes.


Final Score: (6) Wisconsin 76, Minnesota 63

Frank Kaminsky had 25 points, seven assists, six rebounds and two steals as the sixth-ranked Wisconsin Badgers won the Big Ten Conference regular-season crown outright with a 76-63 victory over the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Sam Dekker added 20 points and six rebounds for the Badgers (27-3, 15-2 Big Ten), who have won four in a row against Minnesota. Nigel Hayes tallied 12 points and nine boards. Nate Mason ended with 15 points for the Golden Gophers (17-13, 6-11), who have lost four of five. Carlos Morris contributed 11 points.


Final Score: (13) Utah 67, Washington State 59

Delon Wright had 18 points with eight rebounds and eight assists to help the 13th-ranked Utah Utes battle past the Washington State Cougars for a 67-59 win on Thursday night. Jordan Loveridge tallied 16 points and Brandon Taylor added 11 for the Utes (23-6, 13-4 Pac-12), who bounced back from Saturday’s 63-57 home loss to regular- season conference champion Arizona. DaVonte Lacy paced the Cougars (12-17, 6-11) with 16 points and Jordan Railey chipped in with 12 points. Josh Hawkinson had 11 points and nine rebounds for Washington State, which has lost four of its last five games.


Final Score: (18) Arkansas 78, South Carolina 74

Bobby Portis scored 24 points and helped No. 18 Arkansas to come roaring back to down South Carolina, 78-74, in a wild SEC matchup. The Razorbacks blew a 20-point first-half lead, trailed by 11 with six minutes to play, then outscored the Gamecocks by an 18-3 margin the rest of the way to sew up the No. 2 seed for next week’s SEC Tournament. Michael Qualls added 18 points and scored the go-ahead layup with 1:26 remaining, while Anthlon Bell hit 5-of-8 attempts from 3-point range—including two during Arkansas’ game-ending run—in a 17-point effort. The hard-fought victory was the eighth in nine games for Arkansas (24-6, 13-4 SEC), with its lone blemish over that stretch coming at still-unbeaten Kentucky this past Saturday. Tyrone Johnson finished with 18 points and six assists in a tough Senior Night result for South Carolina (14-15, 5-12). Duane Notice and Michael Carrera each tallied 14 points for the Gamecocks, with Carrera pulling down nine rebounds.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NBA Game Results

(Thursday, March 05)


Final Score: Chicago 108, Oklahoma City 105

E’Twaun Moore, not Russell Westbrook, was the hero Thursday as the Chicago Bulls rallied late to upend the Oklahoma City Thunder 108-105. Moore, who saw extended playing time because of Chicago’s recent slew of injuries, scored 13 of his career-high 19 points in the fourth quarter, including the deciding 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds remaining. Fellow reserve Nikola Mirotic poured in 14 of his 26 points in the final frame, while Paul Gasol and Mike Dunleavy each chipped in with 21 points for the Bulls, who won for the third time in four games despite trailing by as many as 16. Westbrook came into the game riding a string of four consecutive triple-doubles, the longest stretch the NBA has seen since Michael Jordan had seven in a row from March 25-April 6, 1989. The All-Star guard recorded a franchise-record third straight 40-point performance with 43 points but shot just 2-of-9 in the fourth quarter and turned the ball over after Moore’s go-ahead 3. He also fell shy of a triple-double by two rebounds and three assists.


Final Score: Portland 94, Dallas 75

LaMarcus Aldridge posted 17 points and 12 rebounds in the Portland Trail Blazers’ 94-75 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night. Nicolas Batum had a productive game with 15 points, 12 rebounds and six assists for the Blazers, who won their fifth straight game but may have lost a key piece to the team in the process. With the game tied early in the third, Wesley Matthews left the game and did not return. Matthews fell to the floor as he cut with the ball and needed to be helped off the court with a left foot/leg injury.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Pence breaks arm, out 6-to-8 weeks

The defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants will be without a key regular for perhaps the first month of the 2015 season after All-Star outfielder Hunter Pence fractured his left forearm in Thursday’s spring training game.

Pence was struck in the wrist by a pitch from Chicago Cubs hurler Corey Black in the sixth inning of San Francisco’s 8-6 Cactus League win. The Giants announced after the game that the energetic right fielder sustained a non- displaced fracture of the ulna bone and will be sidelined between 6-to-8 weeks.

The Giants open the regular season at Arizona on April 06.

Pence had played in all 162 games for the Giants in each of the last two seasons and has missed just two over the last three.

Since joining San Francisco in a midseason trade with Philadelphia in July of 2012, Pence has helped the Giants to a pair of World Series titles and has averaged 24 home runs and 86 RBI over the past two seasons.

The 31-year-old earned his third career All-Star selection in 2014 and ended the campaign with 20 homers, 74 RBI, 13 stolen bases and a .277 average. Pence then hit .444 (12-of-27) with seven runs scored and five RBI during San Francisco’s seven-game victory over Kansas City in last October’s Fall Classic.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Thursday, March 05)


Final Score: Philadelphia 3, St. Louis 1

Wayne Simmonds netted the game-winning goal with 8:23 remaining, one of three third-period tallies which lifted Philadelphia past St. Louis by a 3-1 count on Thursday night. Michael Del Zotto and Michael Raffl also lit the lamp for the Flyers, who ended up 2-0-1 on a three-game homestand. Steve Mason came up with 28 saves for the win. Jaden Schwartz provided the sole offense for the Blues, who suffered just their second regulation loss this season when leading after two periods. Brian Elliott stopped 28 shots in defeat.


Final Score: Calgary 4, Boston 3 (SO)

David Schlemko scored the deciding goal in the eight round of the shootout to give the Calgary Flames a 4-3 victory over the Boston Bruins. Both teams entered Thursday’s game on the inside track of a tight playoff race with less than 20 games remaining, and Calgary picked up the much-needed extra point when Schlemko, who was acquired off waivers from Dallas last week, beat Tuukka Rask in his first game with the club.


Final Score: Minnesota 2, Washington 1

Jason Pominville scored both Minnesota goals in the third period to lift the Wild to a 2-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on Thursday. Zach Parise assisted on both tallies and Devan Dubnyk made 24 saves in his franchise-record 22nd start for the Wild, who have won four straight games and seven of their last eight. Curtis Glencross scored and Braden Holtby allowed both Wild goals on 30 shots for Washington, which was without star forward Alex Ovechkin due to a lower-body injury.


Final Score: Tampa Bay 4, Toronto 2

Nikita Kucherov and Ryan Callahan netted first-period goals, while Ben Bishop halted 25 shots, as Tampa Bay slipped past Toronto by a 4-2 score on Thursday. Vladislav Namestnikov and Alex Killorn each added a goal for the Lightning, winners in six of their last nine outings. David Booth and Richard Panik supplied offense for the reeling Leafs, who were coming off a win at Florida on Tuesday which snapped a prolonged road drought. Jonathan Bernier stopped 27 pucks in the loss.


Final Score: Dallas 4, Florida 3 (SO)

Colton Sceviour scored in the third round of the shootout to lift the Dallas Stars over the Florida Panthers, 4-3, on Thursday. Curtis McKenzie, Shawn Horcoff and Alex Goligoski scored in regulation for the Stars, who have won two in a row since a six-game skid. Kari Lehtonen gave up three goals on 14 shots before being pulled in the second period. Jhonas Enroth made 10 saves and stopped Brandon Pirri, Vincent Trocheck and Nick Bjugstad in the shootout.


Final Score: NY Islanders 4, Nashville 3

Brock Nelson scored the game-winning goal during a wild third period as the New York Islanders sent the Nashville Predators to their fifth straight loss with a 4-3 decision. John Tavares and Nick Leddy each tallied a goal and an assist, Anders Lee also lit the lamp and Jaroslav Halak made 28 saves for the Islanders, who ended a two-game skid. Craig Smith, Colin Wilson and Mike Ribeiro all scored for Nashville, while Pekka Rinne allowed all four New York goals on 26 shots.


Final Score: Arizona 3, Vancouver 2 (SO)

Glendale, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - Sam Gagner scored the lone goal of the shootout as the Arizona Coyotes ended a 10-game skid with a 3-2 shootout win over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday. Gagner, Arizona’s first shooter, beat Eddie Lack blocker side with a wrister that rang off the post. Mike Smith stopped Nick Bonino, Radim Vrbata and Chris Higgins to seal the outcome. Tobias Rieder and Tye McGinn lit the lamp during regulation and Smith made 32 saves and stopped all three shooters during the shootout in the Coyotes’ first win since February 09. Higgins and Vrbata each scored late in the third period to force overtime, while Lack turned aside 33 shots for the Canucks, who have dropped three of their last four games.


Final Score: Los Angeles 4, Montreal 3 (SO)

Anze Kopitar scored the deciding goal in the fourth round of the shootout as the Los Angeles Kings survived a stiff test from the Montreal Canadiens, 4-3, on Thursday. Marian Gaborik scored a pair of power-play goals, including one with 45 seconds left in regulation that forced OT. Gaborik opened the shootout with a goal, while Jeff Carter scored in regulation and in the shootout for the Kings, who received 15 saves from Jonathan Quick. Max Pacioretty, Tom Gilbert and Brendan Gallagher all scored for Montreal, which has lost three in a row for the first time since early December. Dustin Tokarski gave Carey Price the night off and made 26 saves for the victors.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Champion Swiss set to face host Belgium in Davis Cup

Switzerland may be the reigning Davis Cup champion, but 2014 heroes Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka are not playing this time around.

The best-of-five opening-round affair in Liege will not feature any of tennis’ biggest stars this week, as the Swiss are led by 344th-ranked Henri Laaksonen, while the Belgians’ highest-ranked player in world No. 102, Steve Darcis.

Friday’s opening singles will pit Laaksonen against 132nd-ranked Ruben Bemelmans and Darcis versus world No. 576 Swiss Michael Lammer on the indoor hardcourt at Country Hall du Sart Tilman.

Saturday’s doubles has a Swiss duo of Lammer and Adrien Bossel taking on a Belgian pairing of Bemelmans and Niels Desein, while Sunday’s reverse singles call for Darcis to tangle with Laaksonen and Bemelmans to battle Lammer.

The Swiss are captained by Severin Luthi, while Belgium is skippered by Johan Van Herck.

The former world No. 1 great Federer and Wawrinka led the Swiss to their first-ever Davis Cup title last year, when they beat host France 3-1 in the final, but both men decided against playing in the opening round this year.

Belgium and Switzerland meet for an eighth time, with the hosts looking to advance to the World Group quarterfinals for the first time since 2007.

The Swiss lead the all-time series between the two sides, 4-3, including a victory in the most recent encounter in 2008.

The winner in Liege will meet the Canada-Japan victor in July’s quarterfinals.


►  French, Germans prepare for Davis Cup clash

Nine-time champion France and three- time winner Germany will do battle in an opening-round Davis Cup tie this weekend.

The best-of-five affair will commence Friday with opening singles rubbers between former top-10 star Gilles Simon and Jan-Lennard Struff and another former top-10 Frenchman, Gael Monfils, and Philipp Kohlschreiber.

Saturday’s doubles will pit a French team of Julien Benneteau and Nicolas Mahut against a German tandem of Benjamin Becker and Andre Begemann.

Sunday’s reverse singles have the world No. 14 Simon taking on the 28th-ranked Kohlschreiber and the No. 19 Monfils tangling with the 74th-ranked Struff on an indoor hardcourt at Frankfurt’s Fraport Arena.

France is captained by former Australian Open runner-up Arnaud Clement, while Germany is guided by Michael Kohlmann.

The Germans and French are meeting in a rematch of a World Group quarterfinal from last year.

Looking to put an end to a 76-year losing streak against France, Germany won both singles rubbers on Day 1 last year only for the host French to roar back from 0-2 down for just the fourth time in their history.

The Germans have not defeated their European counterparts since 1938, but they are on a three-tie winning run at home, including a victory over Spain in the first round last year.

The France-Germany winner will meet the Great Britain-United States victor in a July quarterfinal.

The French are 8-2 all-time versus the Germans in this storied competition.

France lost to visiting Switzerland 3-1 in last year’s Davis Cup final in Lille.


►  Djokovic ready to lead Serbs against rival Croats

World No. 1 great Novak Djokovic will play in Friday’s opening singles rubber in the best-of-five opening-round Davis tie between host Serbia and Croatia.

The reigning Australian Open and Wimbledon champ will open up against Croat Mate Delic on an indoor hardcourt at Kraljevo Sports Centre.

The 27-year-old eight-time Grand Slam champion is 26-7 in his career Davis Cup singles and led the Serbs to their lone championship in 2010. Serbia was also a runner-up in 2013.

Djokovic-Delic will be followed Friday by a match between resurgent Serb Viktor Troicki and rising young 18-year-old Croat Borna Coric.

Saturday’s doubles call for Troicki and Nenad Zimonjic to face a Croatian tandem of Marin Draganja and Franko Skugor, while Sunday’s reverse singles have Djokovic taking on the 61st-ranked Coric and the No. 41 Troicki meeting the 158th-ranked Delic.

Bogdan Obradovic captains Serbia, while Croatia is guided by Zeljko KraJanuary

Serbia and 2005 titlist Croatia have a long political history, but they have only met once in Davis Cup since the division of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. The Serbs got the better of that clash in 2010.

The winner in Kraljevo will face the Argentina-Brazil victor in a quarterfinal in July.


►  Murray set to face U.S. in Davis Cup

Scottish hero Andy Murray will get things going Friday when he meets Donald Young in the best-of-five opening- round Davis Cup tie between host Great Britain and the United States.

Murray-Young will be followed on Day 1 by a bout between towering American John Isner and James Ward.

Saturday’s doubles will pit the American Bryan brothers, Mike and Bob, versus a British duo of Dominic Inglot and Murray’s older brother, Jamie.

Sunday’s reverse singles on the indoor hardcourt at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena will pit the world No. 5 Murray against the 20th-ranked 6-foot-10 Isner and the No. 47 Young versus the 111th-ranked Ward.

The two-time Grand Slam champion and 2014 Australian Open runner-up Murray is 19-2 in his career Davis Cup singles.

Team USA is captained by former world No. 1 Jim Courier, while Leon Smith pilots Britain.

This tie marks a repeat of last year’s first-round clash in San Diego, where the Murray-led Brits beat the U.S. 3-1.

The Americans and Britain squared off in the first-ever Davis Cup meeting in 1900.

The U.S. leads the all-time series, 11-8. The Americans own a record 32 Davis Cup titles, while Britain boasts nine, with its’ last one coming in 1936. The Americans last hoisted the chalice in 2007.

The winner in Glasgow will meet the France-Germany victor in a quarterfinal in July.


►  Raonic will open for Canada vs. Nishikori-led Japan

Sixth-ranked Milos Raonic will compete in Friday’s opening singles rubber, as Canada is ready to host Kei Nishikori-led Japan in a best-of-five opening-round Davis Cup showdown.

Raonic will take on 85th-ranked Tatsuma Ito on Day 1, while the second opening singles match will pit the world No. 4 Nishikori against No. 62 Vasek Pospisil.

Saturday’s doubles has a Canadian pairing of Pospisil and 42-year-old Daniel Nestor facing a Japanese duo of Go Soeda and Yasutaka Uchiyama.

Sunday’s reverse singles call for Raonic to battle the U.S. Open runner-up Nishikori in a marquee matchup and Pospisil to tangle with Ito on the indoor hardcourt at Vancouver’s Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.

Nishikori is 12-2 in his career Davis Cup singles, while his fellow top-10 star Raonic is 13-4.

Canada and Japan will square off in a repeat of last year’s first-round clash. The 2014 encounter in Tokyo saw both sides depleted by injuries and it was the Japanese who extended their perfect record against the Canadians to 6-0.

The Canadians are captained by Martin Laurendeau, while the Japanese are guided by Minoru Ueda.

The winner in Vancouver will move on to face Belgium or Switzerland in a quarterfinal in July.


►  BMW Malaysian Open Women’s Tennis Update - March 05

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Total Prize Money: $250,000

THURSDAY’S SECOND ROUND MATCHES

Caroline Wozniacki (1) defeated Lin Zhu, 6-4, 6-1
Carina Witthoeft defeated Klara Koukalova (5), 7-6 (7-3), 6-0
Su-Wei Hsieh defeated Misa Eguchi, 6-3, 3-6, 6-0

FRIDAY’S QUARTERFINAL MATCHES

Caroline Wozniacki (1) vs. Carina Witthoeft
Jarmila Gajdosova (4) vs. Kurumi Nara (6)
Julia Goerges (8) vs. Alexandra Dulgheru
Su-Wei Hsieh vs. Elizaveta Kulichkova


►  Wozniacki rolls into Malaysian Open quarters

Top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki had little trouble in her second-round match Thursday at the Malaysian Open tennis event, rolling into the quarterfinals with a straight-set victory.

Wozniacki blasted seven aces and broke serve three times in a 6-4, 6-1 rout of China’s Lin Zhu. She needed just 75 minutes to advance to Friday’s quarterfinals.

Next up for the Dane will be Germany’s Carina Witthoeft, a 7-6 (7-3), 6-0 winner Thursday against fifth-seeded Klara Koukalova of the Czech Republic.

Also Thursday, Taiwanese wild card Su-Wei Hsieh outlasted Japan’s Misa Eguchi in three sets, 6-3, 3-6, 6-0. Hsieh will play Russian qualifier Elizaveta Kulichkova in the quarters.

Friday’s remaining quarterfinal matches will feature fourth-seeded Jarmila Gajdosova of Australia against Japan’s Kurumi Nara and eighth-seeded Julia Goerges of Germany against Romania’s Alexandra Dulgheru.

This week’s champion will collect $43,000.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Dortmund one to beat in San Felipe Stakes

Unbeaten 3-year-old Dortmund heads a field of 10 for Saturday’s $400,000 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park.

The San Felipe is the final local prep for the Santa Anita Derby on April 04. The race is worth 50 points to the winning horse toward a start in the 141st Kentucky Derby on May 2.

Last year California Chrome won the San Felipe on the way to winning the Santa Anita Derby, Run for the Roses, Preakness and being named Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old.

Trained by Bob Baffert for Kaleem Shah, Dortmund will start the 1 1/16-mile San Felipe from post 3 with Martin Garcia again in the saddle. Garcia has been aboard the chestnut colt for all four winning races.

Dortmund is coming off a victory four weeks ago as the 3-5 favorite in the $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita and has 20 points in the Kentucky Derby points system.

“It was exciting, because I thought we were beat,“ Baffert said after winning the Lewis Stakes last month, “and when he came back like it made me really appreciate it a lot more. It makes it sweeter because going in I thought he was the best horse, then that horse went by him and I thought maybe he’s not as good as I thought.“

Dortmund won first time out last November 02 at Santa Anita and followed on November 29 with a 7 3/4-length victory in an allowance race at Churchill Downs. He defeated Firing Line in last December’s Los Alamitos Futurity by a head and has banked $449,400 from his four wins.

Making his first start of the year will be undefeated colt Ocho Ocho Ocho with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith leaving from post 2. Ocho Ocho Ocho is owned by DP Racing and trained by Jim Cassidy.

The 3-year-old won his debut last October at Santa Anita followed by wins in the Juvenile Turf Sprint at the track and Delta Downs Jackpot on November 22. Ocho Ocho Ocho has earnings of $693,600.

San Vicente Stakes winner Lord Nelson has drawn the rail for Saturday and will be ridden again by Rafael Bejarano. Lord Nelson, trained by Bob Baffert, is owned by Peachtree Stable with three wins in five starts for $249,571.

Here is the field for the San Felipe from the rail out: Lord Nelson, Rafael Bejarano; Ocho Ocho Ocho, Mike Smith; Dortmund, Martin Garcia; The Gomper, Tyler Baze; Kenjisstorm, Agapito Delgadillo; Prospect Park, Kent Desormeaux; Bolo, Victor Espinoza; Pulmarack, Drayden Van Dyke; Sir Samson, Joe Talamo and Pain and Misery, Flavien Prat.

The San Felipe has an approximate post time of 6 PM ET.


►  El Kabeir tops field for Gotham Stakes

Jerome Stakes winner El Kabeir heads a field of 10 3-year-olds for Saturday’s $400,000 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct.

The 1 1/16-mile stakes is the final local prep event for the $1 million Wood Memorial on April 04. The Gotham is worth 50 points to the winning horse under the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” qualifying system.

Trained by John Terranova for Zayat Stables, 8-5 morning line favorite El Kabeir will start from post 4 with C. C. Lopez again in the saddle. This will be the third straight race Lopez will be aboard the gray colt.

El Kabeir won the Jerome at Aqueduct on January 03 as the 7-5 top pick by almost five lengths as he began his 2015 season. Five weeks later the colt, sent off as the 1-2 favorite, was second to Far From Over in the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct.

“We’ve been lucky in the fact we’ve gotten several races under him so far,‘ Terranova said. “He’s got a great foundation, so fitness is not a problem or an issue. We’ve had a couple of light days in between but we never want to force anything. We just wait for the track and him to tell us. Hopefully we’ll be good the next few weeks. So far this week, it looks like he’s coming into this race really well.“

El Kabeir broke his maiden by 10 3/4 lengths in his second start on August 30 at Saratoga. He was fourth in the slop in the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park on October 04 and second in Aqueduct’s Nashua Stakes on November 02 in the mud. The colt went wire to wire to win the 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs on November 29. El Kabeir has earned $438,892 from his seven career starts.

Classy Class, the 7-2 second pick, is representing the barn of trainer Kiaran McLaughlin in the Gotham following the move of Ocean Knight to Saturday’s Tampa Bay Derby. Owned by Cheyenne Stables, Classy Class has drawn post 3 with Junior Alvarado aboard the colt for the first time.

Classy Class was also 7-2 for the Withers when he finished third behind Far From Over in his 2015 opener. The colt won his debut start last October at Belmont Park and was fourth in the Remsen at Aqueduct last November 29.

“We thought Classy Class ran very well in the Withers,“ said McLaughlin. “El Kabeir challenged him a lot earlier than we were expecting, and he ran on well. (In the Gotham), we’d prefer to see him come from off the pace; he doesn’t need to be on the lead.“

Classy Class has banked $90,000 in his three starts.

Here is the field for the Gotham in post position order: Combat Diver, Sheldon Russell, 12-1; Dontbetwithbruno, Manuel Franco, 5-1; Classy Class, Junior Alvarado, 7-2; El Kabeir, C. C. Lopez, 8-5; Lieutenant Colonel, Kendrick Carmouche, 5-1; Tiz Shea D, Taylor Rice, 15-1; Toasting Master, Angel Arroyo, 20-1; Uninfluenced, Fernando Jara, 5-1; Tencendur, Cornelio Velasquez, 8-1 and Blame Jim, Jose Ortiz, 5-1. Dontbetwithbruno, Uninfluenced and Blame Jim are coupled.

The Gotham Stakes has an approximate post time of 4:50 PM ET.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Hubbard grabs early lead in Puerto Rico

Mark Hubbard opened with a 4- under 68 on Thursday as he grabbed a 1-stroke lead after the opening round of the Puerto Rico Open.

Hubbard, who is making his 11th start of the season, has just one top-20 finish to his credit. He shared 20th at the Humana Challenge.

Billy Mayfair, a five-time PGA Tour winner, carded a 3-under 69 at Trump International Golf Club. He was joined in second place by Chris Smith and Emiliano Grillo.

Former world No. 1 David Duval headlines a group of 11 players at minus-2. He stands alongside J.J. Henry, Jonathan Byrd, Rod Pampling, Dicky Pride, Alex Cejka, James Driscoll, Chad Collins, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Jon Curran and Scott Pinckney.

Hubbard played the back nine first on Thursday and he opened with a pair of pars. He traded a birdie at the 12th for a bogey at No. 13. After four more pars, Hubbard birdied the par-5 18th to make the turn at minus-1.

The 25-year-old parred the first three holes of his second nine. Hubbard moved to minus-2 as he birdied the par-4 fourth. He followed with birdies at five and six.

Hubbard faltered to a bogey on the par-3 eighth, but he bounced back with a birdie at the ninth to grab the lead.

“It played tough out there with the wind, but I hit a lot of really good kind of three-quarter and half shots into the wind. I actually probably played the into-the-wind holes better than the downwind holes, where I had to just hit normal shots,“ Hubbard explained. “But I drove it pretty well, kept it in the fairway and made a bunch of solid 5-, 6-footers.“

Mayfair birdied two of his first five holes before he stumbled to a bogey on the par-5 15th. He birdied the 18th en route to making the turn at minus-2.

The 1995 Tour Championship winner birdied the second, but followed with bogeys at three and four. Mayfair climbed back into a share of second place with birdies at the sixth and eighth.

Smith flew up the leaderboard with three birdies in a 4-hole span from the third. He parred three in a row before moving to 4-under with a birdie at the 10th. Smith wrapped bogeys at the 13th and 15th around a birdie at No. 14.

“I played really good, actually. I hit it in the bunker on the first hole, and I hit it up there real close and saved par, and then after that it was pretty easy,“ Smith said. “Hit it in the water on 13, made a really good bogey there, and then other than that, I was in good shape. I made a lot of birdies. I putted pretty good.“

Grillo birdied the first then he traded a bogey from a birdie from the fourth. He struggled to another bogey at the 10th, but he came right back with a birdie at the 11th. The Argentine moved to minus-3 with birdies at 15 and 17.

NOTES: Hubbard’s previous best position after one round was a tie for 14th at the 2014 Sanderson Farms Championship ... Duval’s last made cut on the PGA Tour came last April at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans ... Defending champion Chesson Hadley opened with a 1-under 71 and he is tied for 16th ... David Toms withdrew after nine holes with a back injury, while Justin Hicks withdrew with a hip injury after carding an 81.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Phoenix to install tire barriers before NASCAR visit

Phoenix International Raceway will supplement its existing barrier system with packs of tires before NASCAR visits next weekend.

The tire packs will be installed along the interior wall of the fourth turn at Phoenix. The decision Wednesday to use tires in front of the concrete wall was made after a review of the existing barriers.

Phoenix President Bryan Sperber says the track will work “in tandem with NASCAR to expedite the adoption of additional impact-absorbing technologies.”

Most tracks are reviewing their current safety measures since Kyle Busch broke his right leg and left foot on February 21 when he crashed into a concrete wall at Daytona. The wall lacked an energy-absorbing SAFER barrier, which often lessens the impact.

Jeff Gordon hit an unprotected wall at Atlanta last week.


►  NASCAR driver Kurt Busch cleared of criminal charges relating to alleged domestic abuse of ex-girlfriend

NASCAR driver Kurt Busch will not face criminal charges relating the the domestic abuse allegations leveled by his ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll last year, Delaware’s News Journal reports. The decision was announced Thursday morning by Delaware Attorney General spokesman Carl Konefsky, who emailed the News Journal:

“After a thorough consideration of all of the available information about the case, it is determined that the admissible evidence and available witnesses would likely be insufficient to meet the burden of establishing beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Busch committed a crime during the September 26 incident. Likelihood of meeting that high burden of proof is the standard for prosecutors in bringing a case. For this reason, the Department of Justice will not pursue criminal charges in this case.”

Driscoll filed charges last November in connection to an incident she alleges occurred in September at Dover International Speedway. Driscoll had outlined a horrific scenario, in which she claims Busch repeatedly smashed her head against the wall inside his motor home at the track. U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) even got involved, petitioning Busch’s team Stewart-Haas Racing to suspend Busch during the investigation. NASCAR ended up suspending Busch last month after a Delaware family court found what it called “a preponderance of the evidence” that the 36-year-old driver “committed an act of domestic violence” against Driscoll.

The burden of proof differs between criminal and civil courts, where separate cases have been ongoing. With the criminal case behind him, though, Busch is one step closer to gaining reinstatement for NASCAR’s 2015 season. The path, outlined by NASCAR, will not be an easy one, however.

Busch made an agreement with NASCAR last last week on the steps he will have to take to move forward. Neither Busch nor NASCAR revealed the details of their plan, nor does it have a clear timetable.

“NASCAR has laid out its expectations for Kurt, and while there is no timetable to meet those expectations, Kurt’s willingness to embrace the conditions set forth by NASCAR is a positive step that we support,” Stewart-Haas Racing executive vice president Joe Custer said in a statement (via ESPN) on Monday. “We understand Kurt Busch has begun the process for reinstatement as a NASCAR member.”



The Gilmer Free Press

►  ‘15 Season Preview: FCD hopes to take next step

Oscar Pareja set the bar pretty high in his first season as FC Dallas head coach in 2014.

Not only did he guide the club to 16 wins in the regular season, the most for FCD since 2006, but he also helped the Hoops return to the postseason for the first time in three years.

After beating Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the knockout round of the playoffs, Dallas was bounced by Seattle Sounders FC on away goals after 1-1 and 0-0 draws against the Sounders.

Such a positive start to Pareja’s reign certainly raised the excitement level around the club, including technical director Fernando Clavijo.

“Last year was an incredible year and a year that really stamped a mark of where we are and where we want to go and I think we have a very good core of players for the future to be able to dream realistically of winning a championship,“ Clavijo said.

Clavijo’s championship dream likely won’t come true this season, but it’s hard to blame him for his enthusiasm considering the wealth of young talent at his disposal.

Matt Hedges, Mauro Diaz, Tesho Akindele and Fabian Castillo were each key contributors to FCD’s playoff run last season, and each is under the age of 25, while the club added another young talent in the offseason with 23-year- old Colombian winger Michael Barrios.

If each of these players continues to develop Pareja can expect even more out of his side this season, while a key addition in goal can help the side take that next step as well.

The combination of Raul Fernandez and Chris Seitz between the posts last season was inconsistent, so the arrival of 32-year-old Dan Kennedy from Chivas USA in the offseason could prove to be important.

Kennedy arrives at Dallas after spending the previous seven seasons with Chivas, and after starting 32 games for the Goats last term, Kennedy’s arrival should bring a greater level of consistency to the position, which should help the team’s solid back line.

Hedges and Zach Loyd lead the unit along with Moises Hernandez and Stephen Keel after the departures of George John and Jair Benitez.

The 24-year-old Hedges in particular will be a player to watch this season as he continues to make a case for inclusion in the United States national team.

Veteran midfielder Michel had a big impact last year and served as one of the anchors in the middle of the pitch as the 33-year-old tallied 10 goals with four assists in support of FCD’s talented group of forwards.

The 23-year-old Diaz made 19 appearances for Dallas last term totaling three goals with three assists, and he is a player that Pareja hopes can continue to improve and become an even bigger part of the team this season.

Outside of Kennedy’s arrival, the additions of Barrios, Atiba Harris and Kyle Bekker in midfield will give Pareja increased options in an area where the club was a bit thin.

Barrios is a speedy winger who could give defenders problems with his pace. He spent the past four years in Colombia with Uniautonoma and exhibited a nose for goal by scoring 35 goals in 136 games.

His addition bolsters an already potent attack that includes Castillo, Akindele and Blas Perez, who led the club with 11 goals last season.

The 33-year-old Perez has been a steady contributor since arriving at Dallas in 2012, and he brings a veteran presence to a young group that includes Castillo and Akindele, who combined for 18 goals in 2014.

Castillo, 22, signed a new contract this offseason that ties him to FCD through 2019, and his partnership with Perez proved to be incredibly effective.

Akindele managed 21 starts last season as the third forward for Dallas, and along with David Texeira, he gives Pareja a really good option off the bench if the team is in need of some scoring punch.

ADDITIONS: Dan Kennedy (GK), Atiba Harris (M), Kyle Bekker (M), Michael Barrios (M).

LOSSES: Jair Benitez (D), Andres Escobar (M), Raul Fernandez (GK), Je-Vaughn Watson (D/M), George John (D).

OUTLOOK: There is no doubt that Dallas is headed in the right direction after finishing fourth in the Western Conference last season. The club upgraded its talent in goal with the addition of Kennedy and added a speedy winger in Barrios who could help to add another dimension to the Dallas attack. Pareja has a strong group of forwards capable of producing goals, and with a young core of players getting another year of experience, these are exciting times for the team. However, there is a chance that FCD’s progress may not be reflected in the standings as the club still must contend with the Los Angeles Galaxy, Seattle Sounders FC and Real Salt Lake, each perennial playoff teams. Making matters more difficult is the fact that with the disbandment of Chivas USA, the West has now added both Sporting Kansas City and the Houston Dynamo, who both expect to challenge for postseason berths as well.


►  ‘15 Season Preview: Impact poised to bounce back

The Montreal Impact will be eager to get 2015 started so that the club can leave 2014 as far in the rearview mirror as possible.

After winning 12 and 14 games respectively in their first two seasons in MLS, the Impact took a big step back last year, tying for the league low with just six victories.

Montreal failed to win a game on the road last season and the club finished with the second-worst goal difference in MLS ahead of only Chivas USA.

In short, it was a debut season that head coach Flank Klopas will be eager to forget.

One of the few bright spots for the Impact in 2014 was the arrival of Argentina native Ignacio Piatti as a Designated Player midway through the season.

The 30-year-old came to Montreal from San Lorenzo and had an immediate impact, scoring four goals in his first six games. However, Piatti missed the final five matches through injury, which pretty much summed up the season.

However, there are reasons for optimism in Montreal.

After giving up 58 goals in league play last season, the Impact addressed the need by bringing in Belgium international defender Laurent Ciman as well as former Chicago Fire defender Bakary Soumare.

That duo should combine to lead a revamped Impact defense that also includes former Chivas USA left back Donny Toia.

Veteran goalkeeper Troy Perkins left after his contract expired, leaving Evan Bush to battle with Eric Kronberg for the starting spot between the posts.

An improved back line will no doubt lead to some better results, while the play in the midfield should also improve with veterans Nigel Reo-Coker and Marco Donadel both added to the mix.

That duo will provide some needed grit to a midfield that already includes talented wide players in Justin Mapp, Andres Romero and Dilly Duka.

Piatti’s presence for a full season will be a big boost to the attack, but the question will be which forward combination will work best for Klopas.

Marco Di Vaio led the Impact with nine goals last season, but the Italian veteran retired at the end of the season, leaving Jack McInerney and recent acquisition Dominic Oduro to fill the void.

McInerney managed eight goals in 30 games for Montreal last season, but the 22-year-old will be counted on to step up and play a leading role this term.

Oduro brings plenty of pace to the side, but his production dipped last season in Toronto with just two goals and four assists in 24 appearances, and he will be hoping that a change of scenery can do him some good.

Things have already gotten off to a positive start for Montreal with the club earning a 2-2 draw against Mexican side Pachuca in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal, and the club is hoping that result is a sign of things to come in MLS this season.

ACQUISITIONS: Marco Donadel (M), Nigel Reo-Coker (M), Bakary Soumare (D), Eric Alexander (M), Ambroise Oyongo (D), Dominic Oduro (F).

LOSSES: Marco Di Vaio (F), Matteo Ferrari (D), Troy Perkins (GK), Heath Pearce (D), Felipe Martins (M).

OUTLOOK: Montreal should undoubtedly improve from its woeful season last year as the club’s new arrivals instantly upgrade the team all over the field. The pairing of Ciman and Soumare should more than offset the loss of defenders Matteo Ferrari and Heath Pearce and make the Impact a more steady unit at the back. Reo-Coker and Donadel both bring valuable experience to the middle of the field, where the club was a bit soft last season. The wing play from Mapp, Duka and Romero should once again be good, and a full season with Piatti will make a big difference. Di Vaio’s retirement will leave some big shoes to fill, and the Impact will have to hope the 22-year-old McInerney can step forward and make the most of his chance. This is certainly a better team than last season’s edition and Klopas will expect more than six wins this year. However, a lot will need to go right for Montreal to return to the postseason for the second time in franchise history.


►  ‘15 Season Preview: Dynamo kick on under Coyle

The Houston Dynamo head into the 2015 season in unchartered territory.

Dominic Kinnear has been the club’s head coach since the franchise relocated to Houston from San Jose in 2006. But Kinnear brought his impressive spell as Dynamo boss to an end in order to rejoin the Earthquakes, leaving the Houston brass with a mighty hole to fill.

Rather than succumb to the growing trend of transitioning former MLS players into head coaching roles, the Dynamo scoured Europe for an off-script appointment, ultimately landing on Owen Coyle.

Coyle’s managerial career traces back to his native Scotland where he seized control of Falkirk and St. Johnstone, but he is most-recognized for his stints in England with Burnley, Bolton and Wigan.

The 48-year-old made no secrets of his need to learn the mechanics of the single-entity system in MLS, but he is a football man at heart, and it is the training ground where he feels most at home.

Coyle certainly has his work cut out for him as the Dynamo, after making it to three straight Eastern Conference finals, failed to reach the postseason last term.

Houston did, however, add reinforcements during the offseason in a bid to return to the playoffs.

The Dynamo won the lottery to secure the services of coveted striker Erick Torres, who was a lone bright spot for the now disbanded Chivas USA last season. Torres netted 15 goals in 26 league games for the Goats last season, and Houston splashed in December by signing the Mexican striker to a Designated Player contract.

Houston also shored up the defense by signing Spanish defender Raul Rodriguez from La Liga club Espanyol, a move that certainly compensates for Eric Brunner’s offseason retirement.

Torres and Rodriguez join an established squad that has proven success in MLS.

Will Bruin is expected to the lead the line after producing 10 goals in 24 games last season. Coyle is hoping the burly striker will be a nice foil for the silk and skill of Torres.

Giles Barnes and Chandler Hoffman, meanwhile, will add some much-needed depth up top.

Brad Davis, the club’s longtime talisman, figures to continue his role as the club’s creative force in midfield while Oscar Boniek Garcia will add his tireless work ethic, as well as a bit of bite, to the proceedings.

With Kofie Sarkodie, Jermaine Taylor, DeMarcus Beasley and Corey Ashe as the projected starters in defense, Houston’s roster is shaping up nicely.

The continuity in the team is a major advantage for the Dynamo, so it essentially comes down to how well Coyle can harness the talent at his disposal.

ACQUISITIONS: Raul Rodriguez (D), Erick Torres (F).

LOSSES: Eric Brunner (D), Tally Hall (GK).

OUTLOOK: The Dynamo should contend for a playoff berth on the back of their team chemistry and addition of Torres, but how far they ultimately go depends on Coyle’s transition to America. If he settles nicely, Houston could be a tough out in the postseason. If he does not, the club may be looking at its second consecutive postseason absence.



The Gilmer Free Press

►  NCAA reports big jump in home runs with new flat-seam ball

The new flat-seam ball in college baseball is having the desired effect, with teams hitting 40% more home runs so far this season.

The NCAA announced Wednesday that teams are hitting a home run about every other game. Last year, teams homered about once every three games through the first three weeks of the season.

The actual average is 0.47 home runs per team compared with 0.33 at this point in 2014. Last season’s final average of 0.39 per team was a record low.

The flat-seam ball was introduced this season in an attempt to punch up a game that has seen steep declines in offense since new bat standards took effect in 2011. Studies show the flat-seam ball travels 20 feet farther than the old raised-seam ball.

“I guess the seams do matter,” said Eastern Michigan’s Mitchell McGeein, whose total of five homers in 13 games is one more than he hit all last season. “Last year, I got hold of some balls that should have been out, and they would end up getting caught. Now when I hit a ball the same way, I’m getting rewarded for it.”

Nevada’s Ryan Howell also is a fan of the new ball. He hit his nation-leading sixth home run in 12 games in his team’s 7-6 win over UC Davis on Tuesday. He totaled eight in 42 games for Chabot (California) Community College last year.

“Everybody is benefiting,” Howell said. “Ultimately, the ball is going to go farther. It’s cutting through the wind. You can see it fly off the bat.”

Nevada and Texas A&M are the national team leaders in home runs with 17 apiece. The WolfPack already are halfway to their 58-game total last season. The Aggies are only eight shy of their total in 62 games.

“We still have to play out the season, just to see what difference the ball truly does make,” A&M coach Rob Childress said. “But this small case study says it’s a positive thing for college baseball to bring excitement back to our sport.”

The increase in homers has occurred in spite of poor hitting conditions — cold weather — across much of the country. Childress said he’s curious to see if the numbers rise even more with warmer weather, or if there will be a decrease once teams begin playing conference games against better pitching.

Other key offensive statistics are generally unchanged. Per-team scoring is up from 5.07 runs a game the first three weeks in 2014 to 5.29 a game this year. The national batting average went from .263 to .264.

Childress said his team’s power numbers were so high during fall practices and scrimmages that he feared his pitching staff might not be very good. Nevada coach Jay Johnson said the same thing.

But A&M, at 13-0, is one of two unbeaten Division I teams. Virginia is the other. And Nevada, at 11-1, is off to the best start in program history.

The long ball gets a lot of credit.

“I’m an offensive-minded coach,” Nevada’s Jay Johnson said, “so I like the fact that the power element is back.”



The Gilmer Free Press

►  Peyton Manning returning for 18th NFL season

Hold that gold watch. Peyton Manning is taking one more shot at the silver trophy.

Weeks of speculation about the five-time MVP’s future ended Wednesday with word that he’s returning for an 18th season in the NFL and fourth in Denver.

A person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press that Manning will take a $4 million pay cut, from $19 million to $15 million, but that he can make it all back through performance incentives. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because there was no official announcement of the deal.

Manning, who is still scheduled to make $19 million in 2016 in the final season of the five-year contract he signed in 2012, will take his physical and sign his revised contract Thursday.

Manning mulled retirement after the Broncos’ playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts. But he determined he still had the health and hunger to keep playing at age 39, when he tries to become the oldest QB to win a Super Bowl.

“We’re just excited to have him back,” Pro Bowl running back C.J. Anderson told the AP. “Of course, he just wants to go out there and win that ring. And we’re just trying to go out there and help him win it. … If he said he’s mentally and physically ready to play, that doesn’t mean it’s at a subpar level. It means it’s at a high level.”

Manning, who won a title with the Colts in 2006, met with general manager John Elway a few weeks ago after taking some time to decompress from an arduous season and told him he wasn’t ready to retire.

Reminiscent of Brett Favre’s annual flirtations with retirement, however, this saga dragged on as the Broncos and Manning’s agent Tom Condon reworked the quarterback’s contract.

The $4 million savings won’t drastically change Denver’s free agency plans. It gives Elway about $20 million to work with, but much of that will go to his own restricted free agents and a large draft class.

After dealing with a nagging thigh injury that hampered his performance down the stretch, Manning worked out this offseason in New Orleans with physical trainer Mackie Shilstone, renowned for helping athletes extend the twilight of their careers.

On February 12, Manning flew to Denver in team owner Pat Bowlen’s jet to meet with Elway, CEO Joe Ellis and new coach Gary Kubiak. He also huddled with offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, who replaced Adam Gase, Manning’s co-pilot in Denver’s offense who followed John Fox to Chicago.

Kubiak has designed mainly West Coast offenses throughout his career that often require the quarterback to line up under center and roll out. Mobility has never been Manning’s calling card; he’s been most comfortable making quick throws out of the shotgun in recent years.

Yet, Kubiak said it’s “easy to build a playbook” for Manning and noted that Joe Flacco, whom he tutored in Baltimore, rolled out a mere two dozen times last season.

Manning is all in.

“Aside maybe from Tubby Raymond’s Delaware Blue Hen Wing-T offense, I feel pretty comfortable playing in any offense,” Manning said recently.

Elway said Kubiak’s offense reminds him of the system he ran during the final, Super Bowl-winning years of his career, when Kubiak was his offensive coordinator.

“Peyton can fit into this offense very easily,” Elway said. “It’s very dependent on balance. Peyton won’t have to throw the ball 50 or 55 times. That gets more helpful, the older you get.”

Manning has successfully adjusted before: the last two times he had a new head coach, he went 14-2 and 13-3.

Twelve hours after Manning delivered a shocker following Denver’s 24-13 loss to the Colts in the playoffs, saying he was unsure about his football future, Elway beseeched him not to make a rash decision.

Elway used the same give-him-space approach when he lured Manning to Denver following the quarterback’s tearful release from Indianapolis in 2012. Manning had missed the entire 2011 season following neck fusion surgery, casting doubt on his future, so the Colts cut him to clear the way for No. 1 draft pick Andrew Luck.

Manning has led the Broncos to the best record in the NFL in each of his three seasons in Denver. Yet, each time, they unraveled in the playoffs: a 35-point Super Bowl loss to Seattle and two stunning home flops following first-round byes.

Manning, who has thrown 131 of his NFL-best 530 touchdown passes in a Broncos uniform, has but one Super Bowl title, three fewer than Tom Brady, whom he’ll face for the 17th time in 2015.

While Brady readily professes his desire to play well into his 40s, Manning has always taken it one year at a time. In September, Manning said he liked Brady’s “When I suck, I’ll retire” quote.

Manning is 179-77 in the regular season. His nine one-and-out playoff performances are about the only blot on a career that features an unprecedented five MVP honors but half as many rings as brother Eli.

Manning owns most of the significant QB records and is 2,148 yards shy of breaking Favre’s career yardage record of 71,838. He’s also nine victories short of breaking Favre’s record of 186 career wins.


►  Goodell: NFL responsible for Super Bowl seating problems

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell tells jurors in a taped deposition the football league was responsible for problems that left hundreds of fans without seats or with restricted views during the Super Bowl held in Arlington in 2011.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports Goodell’s videotaped testimony was heard on Wednesday by a Dallas federal jury that will decide a lawsuit filed against the NFL by ticket-holders who were displaced when seats weren’t properly installed for the game.

Goodell, in his 2013 deposition, said the NFL is accepting responsibility and that “it is our event. It is our responsibility to produce it in a positive way and make sure we deliver on our promise.”


►  Wilfork says time with Patriots is over

Vince Wilfork is set to become a free agent next week after the Pro Bowl defensive lineman said the Patriots won’t pick up his contract option.

Wilfork released a statement Thursday via Twitter, saying the Patriots told him Tuesday of their decision.

“I want to take this time to just let everyone know that I was informed on Tuesday that the Patriots will not be picking up my option,“ Wilfork wrote. “I’m in a good place (and) I have a great relationship with the Patriots organization. Please know how blessed my family and I have been to play 11 years in New England for (an) amazing organization. ... New England has been and always will be my home. I have played 11 years for the best head coach ever!“

Wilfork said he has no plans to retire.

“Can I still play football? Hell yea! Do I still love football? Hell yea!“ he wrote.

According to the Patriots’ website, Wilfork was due a $4 million roster bonus next week. The Patriots will also save about $8 million in salary cap space.

Wilfork has started all but 10 of the 158 games he has played for the Patriots since joining the team as a first-round pick in the 2004 draft. He missed the final 12 games of the 2013 season because of an Achilles injury, but returned in 2014 and started all 16 games.

The 33-year-old Miami-Florida product had 47 tackles with an interception last year. One of the premier run stuffers in the NFL, Wilfork is a five-time Pro Bowl selection and a two-time Super Bowl champion.

The Gilmer Free Press


References
ABC - American Broadcasting Company
CBS - Columbia Broadcast System
FOX - Fox Entertainment Group
NBC - National Broadcasting Company
JIP - Joined in Progress
DSS - DIRECTV
TSN - Sports Network (Canada)
SNET/SN - Rogers SportsNet (Canada)
RDS - Reseau des sports
MSG - Madison Square Garden Network
TNT - Turner Network Television
TBS - Turner Broadcasting System
SNY - SportsNet New York
CBSSN - CBS - College Sports Network
CSN - Comcast SportsNet
TCN - The Comcast Network
NBCSN - NBC Sports Network
NESN - New England Sports Network
MASN - Mid-Atlantic Sports Network
ROOT - Root Sports (Pittsburgh, Northwest, Rocky Mountain)
CST - Cox Sports Television
FCS - FOX College Sports
FS - FOX Sports Regional
RSN - Regional Sports Networks
CPTV - Connecticut Public Broadcasting
TVG - Horse Racing Channel
FS1 - FOX Sports 1
TWC - Time Warner Cable Sports Channel
* - If Necessary


FRIDAY, MARCH 06, 2015
Major League Baseball - Spring Training
NY Yankees at Philadelphia, 1:05 PM - TCN-Philadelphia, MLB Network
Detroit at NY Mets, 1:10 PM - SNY, MLB Network
Seattle at Los Angeles, 3:05 PM - SportsNet LA, MLB Network
Los Angeles at Milwaukee, 3:05 PM - FS-Wisconsin, MLB Network
National Basketball Association
Toronto at Charlotte, 7:00 PM - SNET-One, SportSouth, DSS
Utah at Philadelphia, 7:00 PM - ROOT-Northwest, CSN-Philadelphia, DSS
Chicago at Indiana, 7:00 PM - CSN-Chicago, FS-Indiana, DSS
Miami at Washington, 7:00 PM - SunSports, CSN-DC, DSS
Sacramento at Orlando, 7:00 PM - CSN-California, FS-Florida, DSS
Cleveland at Atlanta, 7:30 PM - FS-Ohio, SportSouth, DSS
Detroit at Houston, 8:00 PM - FS-Detroit, ROOT-Southwest, DSS
Phoenix at Brooklyn, 8:00 PM - FS-Arizona, YES, ESPN
Boston at New Orleans, 8:00 PM - CSN-New England, FS-New Orleans, DSS
LA Lakers at Memphis, 8:00 PM - Time Warner Cable, SportSouth, DSS
Denver at San Antonio, 8:30 PM - Altitude, KENS, DSS
Dallas at Golden State, 10:30 PM - FS-Southwest, CSN-Bay, ESPN
National Hockey League
Columbus at New Jersey, 7:00 PM - FS-Ohio, MSG+, DSS
Minnesota at Carolina, 7:00 PM - FS-North, SportSouth, DSS
Calgary at Detroit, 7:30 PM - SNET-West, FS-Detroit+, DSS
Buffalo at Ottawa, 7:30 PM - MSG-Buffalo, RDS, TSN5, DSS
Edmonton at Chicago, 8:30 PM - SNET-One, CSN-Chicago+, DSS
Pittsburgh at Anaheim, 10:00 PM - ROOT-Pittsburgh, FS-Prime Ticket, DSS
College Basketball
Big South Tournament, 12:00 PM - ESPN3.com
MVC Tournament, 1:05 PM - MVC TV
Winthrop vs. Radford, 2:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Evansville vs. Illinois State, 3:35 PM - MVC TV
Towson vs. Elon, 6:00 PM - CAA.TV
Big South Tournament, 6:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Samford vs. UNC Greensboro, 6:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Bowling Green at Buffalo, 7:00 PM - Time Warner Sports, ESPN3.com
Akron at Kent State, 7:00 PM - ESPN 2
Horizon League Tournament, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Columbia at Penn, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Cornell at Princeton, 7:00 PM - Ivy League Digital Network
MVC Tournament, 7:05 PM - MVC TV
OVC Tournament, 7:30 PM - ESPN U
Big South Tournament, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Yale at Harvard, 8:00 PM - American Sports Network
Furman vs. Citadel, 8:30 PM - ESPn3.com
College of Charleston vs. Drexel, 8:30 PM - CAA.TV
Texas Tech at Baylor, 9:00 PM - ESPN 2
Pacific vs. San Francisco, 9:00 PM - TheW.tv, BYUtv
Horizon League Tournament, 9:30 PM - ESPN3.com
Loyola-Chicago vs. Indiana State, 9:35 PM - MVC TV
OVC Tournament, 10:00 PM - ESPN U
Loyola Marymount vs. Santa Clara, 11:30 PM - TheW.tv, BYUtv
Women’s College Basketball
ACC Tournament, 11:00 AM - RSN
Southern Tournament, 11:00 AM - ESPN3.com
Atlantic 10 Tournament, 11:00 AM - American Sports Net, A-10 Network
Big Ten Tournament, 12:30 PM - Big Ten Network
OVC Tournament, 1:00 PM - OVC Digital Network, ESPN3.com
SEC Tournament, 1:00 PM - SEC Network
Southern Tournament, 1:30 PM - ESPN3.com
ACC Tournament, 2:00 PM - RSN
Atlantic 10 Tournament, 2:00 PM - American Sports Net, A-10 Network
Pac-12 Tournament, 2:30 PM - Pac-12 Network
Big Ten Tournament, 2:55 PM - Big Ten Network
OVC Tournament, 3:00 PM - OVC Digital Network, ESPN3.com
WCC Tournament, 3:00 PM - TheW.tv, BYUtv
SEC Tournament, 3:25 PM - SEC Network
Cincinnati vs. UCF, 4:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Atlantic 10 Tournament, 4:30 PM - American Sports Net, A-10 Network
Pac-12 Tournament, 5:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
BYU vs. Saint Mary’s, 5:30 PM - TheW.tv, BYUtv
SMU vs. Memphis, 6:00 PM - ESPN3.com
ACC Tournament, 6:00 PM - RSN
North Florida at Florida Gulf Coast, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Kennesaw State at Jacksonville, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
USC Upstate at Northern Kentucky, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Big Ten Tournament, 7:00 PM - Big Ten Network
SEC Tournament, 7:00 PM - SEC Network
Lipscomb at Stetson, 7:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Kansas at Kansas State, 7:00 PM - FCS
Atlantic 10 Tournament, 7:00 PM - American Sports Net, A-10 Network
ACC Tournament, 8:00 PM - RSN
Houston vs. Tulane, 8:00 PM - ESPN3.com
Pac-12 Tournament, 9:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Big Ten Tournament, 9:25 PM - Big Ten Network
SEC Tournament, 9:25 PM - SEC Network
Texas Tech at West Virginia, 9:30 PM - FCS
Pac-12 Tournament, 11:30 PM - Pac-12 Network
College Hockey
Minnesota at Oio State, 5:00 PM - TSN2, ESPN U
North Dakota at Miami-Ohio, 6:30 PM - CBSSN
Denver at St. Cloud State, 9:00 PM - CBSSN
Major League Soccer
Chicago at Los Angeles, 10:00 PM - UniMas
International Soccer
United States vs. Switzerland (Women’s Soccer), 12:00 PM - FS1
Toulouse FC vs. Olympique de Marseille, 2:25 PM - beIN Sports
Golf
EUROPEAN - Africa Open, 7:30 AM - Golf Channel
PGA - WGC Cadillac Championship, 1:00 PM - Golf Channel
Auto Racing
Sprint Cup - practice, 3:00 PM - FS1
Xfinity - practice, 4:30 PM - FS1
Xfinity - practice, 6:00 PM - FS1
Sprint Cup - qualifying, 7:30 PM - FS1
Click Below for More Sports...

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